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Arabella Proffer

Arabella Proffer's artwork changed drastically one day in 2010 when she found herself creating surreal organic environments. Although she started from a place of abstraction, they became filled with strange hybrids of flowers, cells, and symbols that appeared like organisms from another planet. It was only later that Proffer found out she had cancer crawling through her body at an alarming rate. When her doctor showed her the scans of the tumor, and close-ups of the cells, it looked almost identical to what she had been painting – tentacles and all. A new fascination with the macro universe and micro universe was born. This was a major departure for Proffer after 12 years of exhibiting as a Pop Surrealist portrait artist, with a mild obsession with European aristocracy, medical history, and the Old Masters.


This series brings together Proffer's interests in botany, microbiology, monsters, space, disease, and the evolution of cells. Within those interests, she explores the particular roles that organisms, medicine, DNA, and hybrids play, all while creating from her own imagination and instinct. Shaping aesthetic outcomes of these paintings doesn’t come from research or re-creating what already exists; Proffer creates her own nature within these little worlds. If cells and viruses can look beautiful when magnified, what do organisms on other planets look like? Is there something bigger we are a part of? What will these cells look like 10 days later – what about 10 million years later?


Born in Ann Arbor Michigan and bred in Southern California,Proffer and her husband live on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland Ohio. She attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA before receiving her BFA from California Institute of the Arts where she studied under artists such as John Mandel, Derek Boshier, Jim Shaw, and Susan Pitt. Her book The National Portrait Gallery of Kessa: The Art of Arabella Proffer was published in 2011 by Cooperative Press, and she was awarded an Ohio Arts Council grant in 2016. Her artwork has appeared in numerous publications including; The Wall Street Journal, Hi-Fructose, Juxtapoz, Hektoen International Medical Journal, and Creative Minds in Medicine. Proffer is also an author and co-founder of the indie label Elephant Stone Records.

Gallery Hours

Tuesday 11 - 6

Wednesday - Saturday 10 - 6

Sunday 1 - 5

 BoxHeart Expressions 4523 Liberty Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15224