For her series “Animal Alchemy,” the sculptor Jessica Joslin uses delicate found animal bones and antique metal works to build an array of animal acrobats, who play at balancing on balls and interacting with one another. As suggested by the work’s alliterated title, her pieces present a touching marriage of the biological and chemical. The incorporation of once-living materials succeeds seamlessly for Joslin’s choice to use nostalgic and decorative out-of-date metals; against the rusted filigree of fragmented keepsakes, the time-bleached animal bones appear right at home.
Joslin’s creatures navigate a fine line between fragility and aggression; in a piece titled Troy, the reimagines the deceptively merciful figure of the Trojan Horse, fortifying a spindly neck with bullet casings. Frail skulls wear protective armor as if preparing for some ancient battle. Against the sheen of durable metals, animal bones appear unexpectedly delicate despite their sharp teeth and clawing talons.
With breathtaking precision, the artist allows her bony creatures a single mark of vitality, filling their cavernous sockets with marbly eyes. The careful emotionality of the pieces ultimately makes them more gentle than frightful; the sculptor subtly realizes their personalities and relations with one another through the downcast slant or expectant focus of a pupil. A particularly poignant two-headed tortoise is only given two inner eyes, causing each head to fixate the other without access to a peripheral world. Similarly, a horselike beast gazes upwards balefully, pulling the heavy carriage behind him.
Each piece, beautifully fashioned with discarded bones and obsolete metalworks, performs for the viewer, imploring us not to forget their purpose. Take a look. “Animal Alchemy” is now on display in Scottsdale, AZ at Lisa Sette Gallery. (via Hi-Fructose)