In September, people visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) will be able to view North America’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian and Peruvian mummies. Titled Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs, the touring exhibition from The Field Museum in Chicago features over 20 preserved remains ranging as far back as Pre-Dynastic Egypt and Pre-Incan Peru—which means these are some of the oldest discovered mummies in the world. Accompanying the mummies are archaeological artifacts also found in the tombs, such as sarcophagi fragments, limestone canopic jars containing the deceased’s vital organs, and a beautifully fierce double-spouted jar with the face of a jaguar.
In the following statement from the press release, NHM President and Director Jane Pisano explains the exhibition’s goal: “The role of a natural history museum is to serve as a laboratory for the exploration of our natural and cultural pasts, and science is our pathway. Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs uses modern science to challenge and help to unravel what we know about these ancient peoples and their cultures, and in doing so, offers the world an intensely up-close look at The Field’s preeminent collection of mummies, many of them tucked safely away in vaults for over a century.”
As Pisano remarks, what makes this exhibition exciting (aside from its awe-inspiring collection) is its unique examination of cross-cultural methods of mummification, as well as the specific focus on the individuals occupying the coffins. Mummification is often solely associated with Ancient Egyptian ritual practice, but in fact mummies have been found all over the world. In Peru, mummification began 2,000 years before Egypt. While both cultures’ methods are equally fascinating and ingenious, differences can be traced. In Peruvian mummification, for example, there are signs that the coffins were opened so that food and drink could be replenished; in Egypt, the tombs were meant to be sealed for eternity. In addition, the exhibition also profiles the deceased using information gathered from CT scans and X-rays. Among the mummies is a woman and her child, a brother and sister, and the “Gilded Lady,” a 40-year-old woman from the Roman era.
This is the first time the mummies and their artifacts have left The Field Museum, so be sure to take the opportunity to see this fascinating collection. The show runs from September 18th to January 18th. You can learn more on the NHM’s website.
These are amazing. Duramen is a series of wooden sculptures depicting melted picture frames from French design collective Bonsoir Paris. The level of craftsmanship with these handmade works (sculpted by Adrien Coroller) is tops. The dynamic in play between the fine wood used and the decaying, deathly manner in which it is presented nicely illustrates how even the most supple, healthy aspects of life can easily fall from grace. The picture frame reference is a nice touch, forcing us to call into question our very perception and take into account its tendency to directly affect the practical world. Bonsoir Paris, founded by Morgan Maccari and Remy Clemente, has only been around since 2010, but if they continue to push forward in a direction that allows for the production of more work of this quality, they should do fine. (via)
One of my favorite tendencies in Mexican cultures is their positive relationship with death, and the above skulls are some beautiful evidence of it. Our Exquisite Corpse partnered with artists from the Huichol community of the Sierra Madres in West Mexico to create a series of stunning beaded skulls. Bead art goes back centuries on centuries on centuries in Huichol culture, from enormous tableaus to, more recently, tiny tourist coasters and covering every object on the way . The skulls are a combination of Huichol artists and OEC designers, painstakingly hand-beaded, and for sale on their website. ( via )
Brutal, arresting, and violent, Molly Segal’s large format watercolors of hungry, rabid pack animals serve as symbols of both watchers of and participants within pernicious social situations; these scenarios, coupled with paintings of messy, passionate, unleashed sexuality are all depicted using loose, uncontrolled brush strokes, that often leave dripping paint behind. Her watercolors are made on a waterproof paper called Yupo, so before she even beings her process, she has initiated a battle between contradicting mediums. In her statement, she describes how this impacts her work:
“The loose, wet on wet technique of watercolor on Yupo paper helps me explore the ambiguities of our own boundaries. Because Yupo paper doesn’t absorb any of the paint all of the pigment sits on top, vulnerable to the elements and impermanent. The impermanence and vulnerability of the paint itself references the fleetingness of youth and the fluctuating nature of memory.”
Molly Segal is originally from Oakland and is currently an MFA candidate at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Greg Lundgren of Lundgren Monuments is an artist in bringing light and color to the one situation where the dress code is all black. Lundgren, who is a Seattle artist and entrepreneur, has built a business that has people seeing the final resting place in a whole new light.
Starting with the thought that there should always be beauty with the burial, Lundgren challenged conventional notions of fixed, grey headstones once he began to create his own. Working with bronze, steel, granite and cast glass, Lundgren designs personalized headstones and urns that will best communicate the light and energy of the departed. Often done through a collaborative planning process with the family of the deceased, what emerges from his designs are stunning, illustrious sculptures that capture and emulate the warmth and respect felt toward the lost loved one.
As said on their website:
“Cemeteries are not known for their colorful sculptures. Typically they are monochromatic landscapes – variations of grey and black and other stone types. There is no burst of color, no spectrum of light or illuminating sense of life. And this seems grossly out of character to represent the diverse, colorful and individuality of the people cemeteries honor and represent.
Even in the depths of grief and loss, a little color – a little rainbow, can help us remember the magic that is life and the good times that our loved ones experienced, lived and continue to fuel. Even in the darkest hour, it is important to remember that the people we have lost were vibrant, illuminating, and entirely one of a kind. That is the kind of memorial Lundgren Monuments wants to create, and we are very honored and proud to help contribute to this memory, this reminder, this alternative to the cemetery landscape.”
Who wouldn’t want to be buried beneath something so beautiful? (Excerpt from Source)
AnaHell is a photographer who portrays the body in ways that change the way we perceive it. Playing with unusual angles and wigs (see the My Little Phony series, for example), normative representations of bodies are broken down, resulting in images that are playful and often unsettling.
Featured here is a series titled Secret Friends, wherein AnaHell manipulates the appearance of bodies to create unique “creatures.” Each photo depicts people bent double with faces drawn on their backs, the subjects’ spines and ribs creating freakish contours. Adorned with hair and clothing and standing in ordinary rooms, they resemble domestic gremlins with a dual ability of charming and disturbing their viewers.
The following project statement explains—in fairly ambiguous terms—AnaHell’s approach and process:
“With a childlike fascination for rawness, flesh, and the absurd, photographer AnaHell plays with the ordinary and deconstructs it to reveal another perspective. She takes advantage of her immediate surroundings, often photographing close friends and family members in their own living spaces. Secret Friends are playmates, reflections, and villains—strange and wonderful creatures from another world, the kind that children create when they’re alone.”