Above: The Unabridged History of the Beginning of Time, Act II: Scene II
Seattle's Nate Steigenga created the giant, epic "sci-fi nature safari" scenes in his incredible Davidson Galleries' show Necromancin' at the Mountain Lodge by using not so giant materials. He painstakingly cuts teeny-tiny pieces of fabric (bed sheets, drawer liners, pillow shams, etc.) and collages them to create each blade of grass, each rippling muscle and each crossbow arrow plunging into the tentacles of his razor-toothed squid beasts.
"Sometimes when I was laying all the pieces out, I'd be whistling along to a tune and all that shit would just blow away on accident," Steigenga says. "It takes about three to four hours to complete just one figure depending on how focused I am and how detailed it is, like a lizard person or a snake or something."
Steigenga had experimented with fabric collaging while in college a bit, but didn't get to flesh the technique out until a biennial show at Bellevue Art Museum gave him the opportunity.
Necromancin' at the Mountain Lodge was born out of some sketches of fanciful helmets Steigenga had been doing at the time, which he fleshed out into a narrative series featuring a race of muscle-bound freemason aliens destroying a foreign world.
The best part of the show is how easily you can follow along with its implied narratives—the pieces are helpfully titled things like The Unabridged History of the Beginning of Time, Act I: Scene I, with scenes II and III following. In one panel, Summer Sausage in the Sun, we meet a bizarre sausage man baking in the wilderness. In the next scene, Roast: Dinner for Three, we witness the alien planet's freemason conquerors eating the sausage man's flesh over a campfire.
While the images are still incredible here on a computer screen, the scale of Steigenga's work is staggering in person. The depth the layered fabric creates makes the images pop out at you, full of fuzzy, strange texturing that's easy to get lost in if you stare too long at the huge panels.
The Unabridged History of the Beginning of Time, Act I: Scene I (the arrival)
The Unabridged History of the Beginning of Time, Act II: Scene I
Summer Sausage in the Sun
Roast: Dinner For Three
Sad Lizard Man
Neapolitan Milk Man (Sweet Messiah)
Necromancin' at the Mountain Lodge runs through March 29th at Davidson Galleries, open Tues-Sat 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.