Noodlecoon detail from “You Mad Your Own Snares” | 2017

Last year, I painted a scene from Dickens classic with a few modern twists – particularly, two raccoons hanging out near a Simple Human trash can. One had a Starbucks cold brew and the other was covered in ramen noodles. People affectionately dubbed him “Noodlecoon.” The painting was on loan with a potential buyer for a month before said party declined due to the likelihood of the raccoons being off-putting to diners.

Since nothing inspires me (read: lights a fire under my ass) more than being rejected, I decided to explore why we classify certain animals as trashy and hold others in such high esteem, considering we develop buildings on their natural habitats and are responsible for the majority of the trash on this planet. In my research, I learned the critters we deem invasive, feral, and unwanted weren’t always this way – it’s a learned response due to our overconsumption. Additionally, it’s likely they remind us of the qualities we don’t like about ourselves. The following series depicts our maligned filthy friends (a carnival goldfish, lubber grasshoppers, an iguana, a snake, pigeons, seagulls, prairie dogs, a magpie, rats, squirrels, a possum and of course, raccoons) finding ways to survive and thrive amid their trashy existence.