Remember how you felt the first time you watched the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth plunk those little red eyeballs into his palm sockets? That's sort of what looking at the work of Caitlyn Hackett is like — it's an experience that is at once entrancing and disconcerting, striking a perfect balance that appeals to our most morbid curiosities.
The New York artist describes her illustrations:
I am fascinated by the way in which people personify or objectify animals; the way in which the human view of an animal can render it into an object of utility, or a trustworthy companion, or a monstrosity, regardless of that creature's true nature. It is this dichotomy that I aim to reveal in my work, the ‘real' animal versus the abstract animal as it exists in the human mind, an animal mutated by social constructs and mythology alike. The symbolic meaning attributed to different species correlates directly with how they are treated in the real world; which creatures are protected and which are not, which are vilified, which are adored, and which are ignored altogether. Whether or not the symbolic meaning humanity has assigned any given species has any relation to reality is not important to most people, it's the symbolism that matters, the ability to use the animal to suit our own needs, to reach our bottom line. We use the boundary between ‘us' and ‘them' to determine an animal's fundamental worth, all based on our own desires. It is this process of transforming the animal that inspires my work, and gives it its often dark undertones.