Memento Vivere: A study of life.
It is the composition and lighting styles of 17th century master painters that inspires this image series, which explores the inclusion of the animate in still life. The images, severally and in mutual context, produce a constructed narrative, comprising depth of color and clarity, like that of an oil painting, while also reflecting elements of “memento mori.” Memento mori: decedent animals — draped or prepared as food — are frequent subjects in 17th century northern European still-life paintings. This genre of still-life typically features an abundance of food, drink, and the occasional human skull.
Memento mori paintings, like Dutch Realist painter Harmen van Steenwyck’s ‘A Still Life with Dead Birds and Fruit’ (1640), remind the viewer of the brevity and fragility of human life. In Steenwyck’s work, deceased animals lie in dramatic repose, extending limply over the edge of the partially covered and abundantly adorned table. Retaining underlying intent of this distinctive style of still life, I work with live animals in still-life scenes, however, inverting an important part of the meaning: while memento mori reminds viewers of their mortality, memento vivere expresses that life is now, here and in this moment. Viewing still-life images of my domestic fowl- geese, ducks, and chickens, transforms the memento mori into a constructed narrative of memento vivere: remember that you live.