Muskrat Mandala Print
From the artist Wilder Duncan:
From a distance, the compositions of these images are abstracted into formal shapes, calling to mind the meditative patterns of ancient Indian mandalas and Celtic carvings. Drawing closer, the individual angular components appear as precise geometric forms that conjure up Ernst Haekel's illustrated microscopic radiolaria. At last, when the viewer realizes that these images are composed of bones, there is a link to the tradition of memento mori and vanitas still life paintings. This work celebrates the inherent beauty of bone and borrows the aesthetics of Victorian era cabinets of curiosity and Wunderkammer to display a natural truth.
These photographs were created in collaboration between Wilder Duncan and Ralph Smith in New York City in 2017. In his work as a rogue taxidermist and natural history specimen repairman, Wilder cleans and carefully articulates skeletons, sometimes arranging the bones into intricate geometric designs. He realized that these compositions have a unique beauty that speaks to people irrespective of their individual art historical background. Ralph, a professional still-life photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Field & Stream, and Real Simple, applies his technical expertise to accurately translate Wilder’s vision into photographs. Wilder and Ralph met at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in 2012, and shared a passion for natural history that both were interested in pursuing in a collaborative fashion to best utilize each artist's talents.
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