Creating microcosms of fantastical worlds in vitrines, aquariums, and other unlikely containers, Max Hooper Schneider combines a biologist’s zeal for the bizarre diversity of life forms with a surrealist’s passion for wild juxtapositions. For his May solo show at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, in Los Angeles, he used scientific specimen trays that brought to mind Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes—only Hooper Schneider gravitates to what he calls “bleeding-edge biota and ephemera” rather than sentimental relics. One tray included a condom, an iPhone, and dried starfish—all under layers of Kraft cheese singles. “I’m always trying to confuse the artificial and natural,” says the L.A. artist. Hooper Schneider, 33, studied biology and urban design at New York University and earned a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Harvard. He was working as a project coordinator for the French artist Pierre Huyghe in 2014 when he made a splash with his first U.S. solo show, at the L.A. gallery Jenny’s. At present, he’s taking over the Paris gallery High Art with—among other unnatural habitats—a “reef” of uranium glass dishware planted in a ’50s-era dishwasher.