My art practice revolves around animals and the way we use them to know our world, and ourselves. My projects are research-driven, building upon stories from fields like evolutionary biology, extinction studies, ecology, history, literature, film, or epidemiology to explore subjects like the optimism and fantasy of empirical science, technologies of domestication, the rhetoric of invasive species, animals at the borders of the human and the machine, or monsters and de-extinction.

My work is rooted in the field of animal studies, which sees animals as important subjects in their own right, as well recognizes the ways animals allow us to see human-centered problems in new ways. Animals are interconnected with, and illuminate, human conceptions of gender and family, race and class, power and equity, and ecology and interdependency. Though animals have only recently been taken seriously as subjects in contemporary art and scholarship, my work paradoxically uses “unserious” approaches like absurdity, humor, playfulness, cuteness, darkness, horror, or narrative to bring animals into consideration.

My work usually takes the form of installations, often referencing or parodying other kinds of spaces, like natural history museums or a department store, and different historical or stylistic periods. I use a variety of materials and processes, ranging from large-scale carving, casting, video, and drawing, to stop-motion animation, sewing, or collage. I often make artist books, essays, or comics that stand alone or are part of an installation. The flexible format of installation-based work echoes the field of animal studies itself, in which conflicting or complicating ideas, a diversity of perspectives and methodologies, and a variety of formats, allow me to construct a visual argument within the space. I see my work as a contribution to larger discussions about animals as a subject, and art-making as an approach, for alternative ways to think and know.


Maria Lux (b. 1984, Ames, Iowa, United States) earned her BFA from Iowa State University in 2006 and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012. Lux is a member of Carnation Contemporary, an artist-run gallery space in Portland, Oregon. She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.