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Memento Mori Project

by Karen Heagle

NY

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The Memento Mori project is the working title for my next body of paintings.  While making my last series of works I found myself looking to 17th century genre still lives for inspiration. Much of the themes of these works surrounded vanitas and memento mori. The paintings depicted animal carcasses, fruits, vegetables, statues, and other symbolic props that profoundly resonated with me. Around the time of this last project, the deaths of two friends after long illness initially stimulated this direction. These experiences brought home a startling realization of mortality, and at the same time an awareness of my own fleeting youth and vulnerability. Herein I found a connection with the still lives imagery.

 As I approach my new project I want to build and expand on the ideas that emerged from my exhibition last year entitled Let Nature Take Its Course and Hope it passes. As the title suggests, a sense of revelatory irony emerged in the works, which is something that I would want to continue to hone.  I often use imagery with symbolic significance so I will likely continue to look to other pictures from this tradition for direction. Through out my practice many of my works have utilized art historical references, alongside popular culture references creating autobiographical symbols as a means to describe and comment on contemporary culture.

 Our culture is increasingly steeped in anxiety and trouble. World economies are collapsing; much information from trusted institutions is coming to light as misleading, harmful, and untrue. In addition there is prevalence among the population struggling with obesity, which seemed to me an inward manifestation of the anguish of modern life.  Yet at the same time our culture is embracing difference in a more complex ways. So in observing modern life despite being charged with some despair, I would like to inject the new works with more joy.

 I want to employ more personalized and challenging inventions while still resembling the genre still lives. My underlying agendas in my painting have often focused on feminism, gender explorations, and promoting queer visibility.  I want to engage these agendas more concisely, and bring the queer nature of the work more unabashedly to the surface. I want to identify, celebrate, and expound on my perspective from the cultural vantage point of a gay artist.

 Memento mori may actually evolve into observations of life as signposts of meaningful experience still reminders of our mortality. As an example from the last works: Inexperienced/Insatiable depicts a tiger wading in water. The subject traditionally connotes prowess and qualities associated with conquest and attainment, pursuits typifying endeavors of the living.

 In order for me to coax these ideas out into the open and make successful reflections on my agendas I am asking for your support. To see these works into fruition I will first need the space to do the pieces. I have a great workspace that I rely on my painting sales to keep a float.  My minimum fundraising goal will be $4500; this will cover the expenses of maintaining my studio space for the period of 5 months, which will be a good amount of time to launch the new series into production. My maximum fundraising goal of $18,000 will cover all the materials for the project, as well as availing me more time to be able to spend in my studio completing the new pieces. I expect this unencumbered time will be paramount to successfully seeing the project through. So I am grateful for your support at any and all levels, without which this project would remain just a proposal.

 

 

 

 

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