Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Beautiful Fascination; Morbidity

People have described my work over the past 4 years as being dark, gothic, strange and even disturbing (thanks Tim Gunn). Others have countered that by calling it ethereal, lovely, beautiful and vibrant. Regardless, the "dark" element is clear in what I do. It is a part of my aesthetic that creates a vessel for me, as person functioning in everyday life, to release the dark.

Photo by Elizabeth Raab. Hair by Danyale Cook. Little bird bones. Sleeping on the Wind collection; Robin.

It got pretty blatant that I was seduced by the magnitude of the opaque early on in my work of Papusza. While still living in Seattle, after the death of my dear friend/brother Bryce, I acquired an obsession for dead birds. Out of this I culminated my fourth (and largest at the time) collection of work. I initially entitled it "The Dead Bird Collection." I later came to call it "Sleeping on the Wind." I showed this body of work shortly before transplanting to NY, a little over 2 years ago. My show included the works of a set designer, 3 painters (many of the paintings on dresses in my collection), about half a dozen performers, and a dozen more lovely models. Hair and makeup where keyed by the very talented Danyale Cook (, and blew the crowd away. I also did a series of fine art and editorial photos of the collection with 2 seperate photographers; Elizabeth Raab ( and Bethany Antikajian (

Photo by Bethany Antikajian. Hair and makeup by Wendy Honeywell. Dead Seagull.

It was well before my dead bird obsession came to light that I was doing dark art, and very entwined with the dark side, though. My adoration of morbidity has been a part of me since I was a young girl. I view taking decay-things that are part of death and what is considered ugly-as part of a greater cycle. This is a cycle that drives and feeds all of us. I think it is important to acknowledge these cycles exist.

Photo by Elizabeth Raab. Hair by Danyale Cook. Makeup by Dawn Tunnell. Bloody Crow.

For example, I have had a handful of individuals in the fashion world challenge my use of leather, fur, bones, and taxidermy in the clothes I make. Some people have thought it was weird, and others even have called it unethical. My arguement is that doing what I am is very green. If I find a dead pigeon on the street, take it home, sterilize it, free it, and clip it's wings to use on a dress then I am recycling. If I find an old rabbit fur or lambskin jacket, cut it up, and make it into a bodice and a pair of hot pants; I am recycling! And making some beautiful stuff, that will look lovely on the body.

Photo by Elizabeth Raab. Hair/makeup by Brandee Schlossar. Bloody Crow.

I started using things I found on the street in my art when I was in college. I would weave through back ally's after class, and find dingy old rusting chains. I would string them with skeleton key and bike locks, also found on the street or at junk stores. It turned into my favorite necklace and I wore it everyday. Virtually entirely made of found objects, decay, and things that most would view as dark, or potential morbid.

Photos by Kat Bret. From my collection Origama Pink.

We waste a lot in this society. We also pretend that things inside of us do not exist. This is unfortunate. Pretending that something isn't there won't make it disappear, I think we all know this. Culminating what we are afraid of, and creating through it, allows us to harness our fears, and take control of them. I think if more people where open to the darkside, morbidity as some call it, they would be freer in their knowledge of themselves.

Photo by Milk Manstudio.

That is my brief overview into my love of morbidity. I prefer to speak the wealth of it's language through my visual work.

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