After completing her studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Reed traveled to Europe, visited museums and became intrigued with Northern European art from the mid-17th century through the 18th century. One of her inspirations was Melchior d’Hondecoeter (1636–1695), a Dutch painter, who portrayed birds symbolically in park-like landscapes. “In the 17th and 18th centuries, painters were not just using animals as decorative elements,” Reed says. “They were very much interested in the overlap between the wild and the domestic, and how that struggle can be represented by the animal world.” Reed’s first mature body of work was influenced by images from the 1700s that dealt with heroism and power. “I was 34 National Museum of Wildlife Art | WildlifeArt.org interested not just in referencing the works I saw but in directly quoting them to show how the past was still relevant to today.” She has explored this narrative for her entire career. In Dubious Battle has a heroic, almost theatrical feel. The paintings are enormous—almost like the scenery in a Broadway play. “I create a massive landscape,” she says. “I like to make something really big so you feel you can enter the landscape, so you are surrounded by different scenarios everywhere you look.” Reed also notes that, although the different images seem to fit together, if you look closely, you’ll see a fractured landscape that sometimes fits and sometimes doesn’t. “It is meant to be a little disconcerting, “ she says.
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