Jen Toledo was born in Chapel Hill, NC, and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina. After graduating from WCU with a BFA in Fine Arts concentrating in Painting and Drawing she traveled and lived in several cities out of state and abroad before deciding to return to The Blue Ridge Mountains. She has been living and working in Asheville for the past 8 years.
These pen and ink drawings are meant to conjure curiosity and awe for the natural wildlife in Western North Carolina. By envisioning some of the less popular, more elusive, often furry and predatory creatures and getting to know them in a moment of stillness on paper they can be seen and appreciated in a way that isn’t always possible.
I use both watercolor and pen and ink to create depictions of Appalachian flora and fauna, a process that creates a place of sanctuary and expression for me in a chaotic world. I also hope to connect with the viewer by offering a moment of stillness with each creature, whether they are infamous or adorable. With each animal comes a unique combination of textures, colors, feelings & observations. We can all see ourselves in animals. Animals can represent the most innocent and the most savage parts of us.
On the other side of things, animals also represent mystery and hidden worlds. They live lives unseen in places inhospitable to modern ways of life and mysterious to us. I love being able to relate to others through this symbolism and appreciate the way my work invites people sharing animal encounter stories of their own. I hope to conjure fascination and appreciation for the natural world, which continues to rely on our protection and respect to exist.”