June 5, 2012

New Work - Skunk and Garlic Mustard

Skunk and Garlic Mustard
I am delighted to share with you my latest work, Skunk and Garlic Mustard.  It’s part of my Flora and Fauna series, where I fool around with the skulls of local wildlife, combine the images with prints of plants that have an association with the animal for me, and add a vintage textile.
Skunk and Garlic Mustard, detail 1
I take a lot of detailed macro images of the bones, and then pick some to process and turn into cyanotype images on fabric.
Skunk and Garlic Mustard, detail 2
I then make type of monoprint, a heliographic print, where I use the plant as a resist on painted fabric that is left in the sun to dry.  For this work I used garlic mustard, an invasive non-native that unfortunately grows rampantly in the Pennsylvania woodlands, and also in my garden.  I spend a good deal of time each spring uprooting it from my beds, fighting the good fight.   I also incorporated a really cool piece of vintage embroidery covered with  french knots, and an assortment of hand painted and commercial silks and cottons.  I kept the color palette very cool and understated, to better contrast with the prints.  I like the way the colors set the tone of the piece.
Skunk skull
I had the luxury with this one of working with the entire skunk skeleton, courtesy of my daughter, who found the dear departed soul under her dryer vent after a long and bitter winter and gifted me with all the interesting bits of it.
Skunk skull and jaw bones
These are some of the arrangements that didn’t make the final cut for the piece, but are too cool not to share.
Deconstructed skunk skeleton
Here’s an equally cool view of the helio print as it was drying. You can see how the leaves are shriveling in the sun and pulling away from the fabric, leaving their ghostly images.
Garlic mustard mono print, in progress
Working on this series is deeply satisfying for me.  It is simultaneously my homage to the wildlife I share my suburban environment with, the plants that I spend so much time trying to either nurture or eradicate, and the anonymous women who stitched the vintage textiles.  I hope you enjoy this latest effort as much as I enjoyed creating it.


Allison Aller said...

Maybe my favorite to date....very moving and beautiful! Would so love to see this in person... ;-)

Judy said...


Pat Bishop said...

I love it Sue, can't get enough of 'dem bones'.