Title

Eulogy

Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

Jewelry and Metalsmithing

First Advisor

Tracy Steepy

Second Advisor

Lori Talcott

Third Advisor

Lauren Fensterstock

Abstract

My work is a eulogy for all fauna. It involves a ritual act of suture— a ceremonial process of mending and healing— one that functions as a curative process for myself as well as others. While wandering in the woods, or gleaning from animal specimen collections and negotiating with hunters and beekeepers, I gather the remains of fauna in order to make jewelry. I long to restore the fragmented ruins into wholeness. I long to heal what has been broken. From their death comes rebirth, new life. Quietly, these relics reflect the porosity between all things. Jewelry has a history of holding the intimacy we share with loved ones. It can function as a mnemonic device; a reminder of a loved one’s presence, in their absence. My work references the relics of Roman catacombs, Victorian mourning jewelry, and other funerary rituals that materialize mortality. These relics, traditions, and moments in history use the deceased body, fragmented or whole, as a tangible link between the living and the dead. I employ similar rituals of commemoration, but for other species, species whose lives have been affected by the alteration of their environment. Bones of deer, muskrat, and birds, as well ho ney bees are assembled in a ritual act of healing. My intervention with the material is minimal, as they require a light touch. This allows for the wearer to be in direct contact with the raw remnants–with little mediation. When we physically connect with the body of another species, can we rediscover the connection we once understood? Can we renew our empathy for fauna? These relics seek to suture, not only the loss of an animal being, but our severed relationship to it. With the idea of embracing animals as our counterparts, my intention is for humans to appreciate their lives, feel their pain, and grieve their loss. These contemporary relics are an inquiry: Can a physical experience with these objects mend this lost connection between humans and nonhumans? My aim is to lead viewers to a point of revelation: that animal beings are not separate from humans, that we are ontologically connected. We are all pars pro toto, a part of the whole.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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