Erin Hess

Below is the written explanation of the artist’s Sustained Investigation. To view the full images and details of each piece, click/tap on the thumbnail.

My pieces are all direct parodies of classic (and famous) pieces of art, where the people are replaced with animal counterparts and the titles made into puns. I wanted to see how far I could push the boundaries of a parody before the piece lost the qualities that made it a classic in the first place. What makes a piece of art a classic?

In my first few pieces I only attempted to poke fun at the subjects without trying to and the unique qualities of the original, picking animals that would work with the composition while still having the piece be recognizable (piece 1, “The Two Cheetahs” is a parody of “The Two Fridas”, and is only recognizable through the composition). But I came to realize that a piece doesn’t become famous solely through composition, but for unique, recognizable, and human qualities that can be shown even through an animal counterpart. In piece 9, parody of “Girl with the Peal Earring”, I tried to capture the soulful look in the original’s eyes that makes the piece so arresting through a deer counterpart, and in piece 8, parody of “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer”, I tried to convey the delicacy of the original woman through the fragility of a gazelle.