Jennie Cotterill Is All About Dioramas

Jennie Cotterill is many things: muralist, painter, illustrator, designer, baker, musician, sculptor, teacher, curator, etc. But what best displays her personality are her dioramas. While the art world usually dismisses the genre as busywork projects for the schoolyard set, Cotterill assembles tiny worlds from scratch, alive with intricate detail and excellent craftsmanship that bring the viewer into her imagination.

A penchant for storytelling guides each miniature installation. “I just feel disappointed if there's no narrative to go with it,” she says. “Otherwise, it's just decoration, and I don't know where to go with it.”

Among the few hanging on her Huntington Beach apartment walls are the gingerbread house from the Hansel and Gretel tale in the shape of a cuckoo clock; a painting of a two-headed woman with a tiny diorama of the moon in her chest (it lights up!); and a reclaimed jewelry cabinet with a figurine of a deer inside and images of the moon and a solar eclipse on the doors.

There's also a gorgeous scene with a starry background and a beautiful, wooden frame; tiny plastic leaves and thin, actual branches are fitted to hang two minifigurines of a woman and a lion. “I used Sculpey clay and wood, and Magic Sculpt as a glue to hold them together,” Cotterill explains.

This particular work was meant for a Tarot-themed art show (her card was Strength), and fits in with her overall interest in the cosmos. Much of her work also includes religious iconography and scientific theories of the universe, as well as lots of glitter. Check out Jennie Cotterill's amazing artwork at

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