ARTSATL: ONE YEAR LATER: FOR SOME ARTISTS, THE QUARANTINE HAS BROUGHT UNEXPECTED GIFTS
April 1, 2021
Her plaster casts of elements like hydrangea leaves, fiddlehead ferns and herbs (from root to tip) have the look and feel of fossils. She describes her muse as “constantly working, keeping me up at three in the morning,” and says the process of making eco-prints on fabric and paper is a perpetual source of discovery and surprise. Ultimately, her goal is to create works that resonate at a higher vibration.
Cutler’s fascination with flowers, bugs and trees took root during long solo walks as a child in Vermont, where she grew up on the edge of a patch of woods. She was working as an oncology nurse in Phoenix 18 years ago, on the verge of burning out, when an art-making project reminded her of her first love. Once she and her husband relocated to Serenbe in 2013, her interest in nature was revitalized. A constant state of wonder has propelled her to replicate works of quiet beauty in her daily studio practice ever since.
What she never anticipated, though, was how her creative discovery would blossom thanks to social distancing.
“COVID was probably the best year I’ve had here because it quieted the chatter,” says Cutler. “It was like a reset button. I could unplug from a series of activities and relationships [without fear of judgment, reproach or hurting anyone’s feelings]. There were no to-do lists or obligations pulling me in different directions. I got to work out more, lost 10 pounds and have been taking better care of myself.”
Emotional intelligence, empathy and keen intuition characterized Cutler’s nursing. The same traits guide her as an artist. When laying out flowers and leaves in any composition, it’s never an intellectual exercise, but intuitive. And after bearing witness to life cycles when she worked with cancer patients, and throughout the pandemic, she finds solace in the notion that no matter what happens, nature will continue to exist.
“We humans have done so much to destroy the planet,” says Cutler. “When I see a weed growing through a crack in the pavement, I find that comforting. It affirms that no matter what we do, nature will always reclaim itself. A lot of people have forgotten the necessity of preserving nature. But I hope that when people look at my work they’ll be reminded to care for the things that matter.”