Craighill’s animal illustrations are available to purchase in Stirling’s Coffee Shop. Photo by Caroline Jacobs (C’23).
By Charlotte Suttee
“There is a wildness that I see in animals that lies dormant in humans. It is there, but repressed, surfacing only when we are at our most vulnerable, our most reactive,” stated artist Katie Craighill.
Craighill presents her wildly intricate and intimate display of animal illustrations in Stirling’s Coffee House. Stirling’s will display Craighill’s artwork for at least a month, says manager Julia Stubblebine.
A diverse array stampede around the room: an energetic axolotl swims toward the audience, a quartet of bees buzz by the doorway, and a fearless tiger strolls out of the paper, her paw dressed in lines and shapes.
Craighill describes her process designing the elaborate details of these black and white animals: “I’m looking at the actual patterns in an animal,” says Craighill. “I’m also looking at the form and movement. You’ll see the front paw [of the tiger] in motion, and you’ll see the curvature of the paw.”
Craighill graduated from Bowdoin College in 2017 with a degree in Art and Biology, studies that crossover in her work. Blending patterns, movement, curvature, and her own unique style, Craighill illustrates a world of geometric designs in every inch of an animal’s body.
Her work leans to scientifically-informed, abstract pen illustrations. “I’m inspired by the ecosystems and biomes in and around,” says Craighill. “I saw a lot of these animals up close in the wild. Each piece is a snapshot of the different animals I worked with.”
Craighill’s respect for the natural world is largely influenced by her time in Sewanee, where she went to high school and spent a lot of time “tromping around in the woods.” She developed a passion for working with animals while studying Biology at Bowdoin College and has since worked with Zoo Atlanta, researched at a bird sanctuary, and studied in South Africa’s National Park, among other animal-related adventures.
“As I continue to do art, I strive to promote awareness of place, the natural world and the importance of conserving the ecology within it,” Craighill writes on her about page at savagemountainart.com.
Craighill observes that the average person looks at art for no more than eight seconds, and hopes that as visitors of the coffee shop grab their coffees and sit down in a chair that they will take the time to enjoy her work and perhaps learn something new about the animals they see.