Artwork / Crime Against Nature

Crime Against Nature is both a series of paintings and a book, which is available here.

I always assumed that I would have children one day. It wasn’t something that I felt strongly about one way or the other: I just thought it was something I would do.

Then, a few years ago, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a disease which causes infertility in many women. Suddenly, the future I hadn’t cared much about seemed important. The maybe-never of it put me in a should-I-even-try frame of mind.

After being told again and again that the urge to reproduce is primordial, I turned to nature to look for the origins of our baby-making assumptions. To begin with, all I found was the animal version of “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” But I wasn’t convinced.

Slowly but surely, I unraveled the mystery of this seemingly universal formula. I began to understand that the scientists who described animal behavior could be as stuck in a nursery rhyme version of normalcy as I was. And I began to find scientists who weren’t.

As I researched, I broadened my question. I could see that this wasn’t just about baby-making. It was about all the things that we think women and men have to be in order to be natural.

For all my investigating and exploring, I still couldn’t control whether or not I can have children, but I could decide to have a children’s book instead. So I did. Crime Against Nature is this book and it’s also a series that I sometimes exhibit as a version of the text that viewers can wander through as they read. Whatever the format, book or show, Crime Against Nature is meant for the kid in all of us: the person who hasn’t yet felt the pressure to conform, the one who still sees the infinite possibilities of being.

 
Crime Against Nature, the book
Crime Against Nature, the book

The book includes all the images and text featured above plus a foreword by the evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden.

The print version is available for $45. This price does not include shipping or tax, both of which will be calculated by Lulu, the print service that will manufacture the book and mail it to you. You can download the e-book for free or for a suggested donation of $6.

free $6 $45

Crime Against Nature, the coloring book
Crime Against Nature: The Coloring Book

This is the coloring book version of Crime Against Nature. It contains all 56 original images, remade in black and white and ready for you to color in as you please. To see what they look like and maybe buy individual images, check out this section of my print shop.

The full coloring book is available for $11. This price does not include shipping or tax, both of which will be calculated by Lulu, the print service that will manufacture the book and mail it to you.

$11

Gwenn Seemel biology poster
Crime Against Nature poster

This poster is another presentation of Crime Against Nature. It combines an image of the work with the text from the book to create a punchy little meme that sums up the point of the project: that we don’t know as much about what is actually natural as we think we do. For more posters, go to my Redbubble shop!

Gwenn Seemel on Boing Boing
screenshot of Boing Boing

“The issues at play here are hefty and potentially uncomfortable, but the book itself is light, playful, and pleasantly un-preachy.”

- Maggie Koerth-Baker, Boing Boing, January 2013

“The glimpses that Seemel has illustrated of the real wildness of the natural world are fascinating.”

- Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, April 2013

“Seemel’s book ... reminds us that if you’re inclined to look to nature for answers regarding what is ‘normal,’ ‘natural,’ or even ‘moral,’ it’s clear that nature passes no judgement.”

- Kalliopi Monoyios, Scientific American, May 2013

“It’s beautiful and weird and quirky and is guaranteed to spark conversation. ...[It belongs] on the coffee table as much as in the classroom.”

- Cory Silverberg, About.com, June 2013

“The stakes are high in this seemingly playful and light children’s book.”

- Editor, Mr Mondialisation, August 2016

Gwenn Seemel at Place in Portland, Oregon
photo by David Vanadia

Development of this series and the book which accompanies it was made possible by the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the lovely people who supported my Kickstarter. Crime Against Nature showed in December 2012 and January 2013 at Place in Portland, Oregon, and in October and November 2016 at the PointCulture of Liège in Belgium.