Hargrave’s work has always referenced biology. Prior work centered on botany, organisms, and cellular structures, but most recently she has concentrated on insects, fungi, bones and horns, organs, synapses, and sea creatures. Abstracting the body, on both a macro and micro level, is a custom that has grown over the years.
She submerged herself in the study of deep-sea creatures and bioluminescence that resulted in a series of black, dark Prussian blue and white encaustic paintings call Hybrid, many resembling x-rays and angiograms. At M. David & Co in Brooklyn she created an installation that combined etymology and entomology; the concept was arthropods and the words once used to refer to them that are no longer in use. Titled Semantic Drift it included photographs of crocheted insect-like forms printed on Kozo paper, infused with beeswax, and attached to the wall with specimen pins. The originals, crocheted cotton string dyed black, were bundled together, titled Biomass, and hung from the ceiling near her metal wall sculpture whose shadow cast an uncanny resemblance to a dragonfly wing. Her porcelain sculpture, Magical Thinking, is a torso sized grouping of hand pinched bell-like forms finished in black encaustic that pays homage to the medicinal qualities of mushrooms. Hung freely, it sways slowly with the air movement in the room and floats visually, in blatant disregard to its weight.
Whatever her focus, the underlying premise is a constant; biological functioning, and how we understand ourselves and the world we live in from that perspective. Abstracting those ideas and generating organic-looking objects allows for a wide array of entry points into the work and encourages various interpretations. Natural forms made from natural materials is key, but not necessary. She works mainly with clay, wood, steel, beeswax, and paper but whatever assists with the visual message is what gets used. Recently Yupo, a smooth synthetic paper that allows for wonderful gradations as the ink evaporates off the non-porous surface, has been incorporated.
The most satisfying aspect of her practice is the making itself but seeing how the work hits an audience is vital: that is where connections are made and vault naturally into new ideas. This process mimics biological functioning and completes the circle.