During the Victorian era, photographs called Memento Mori were created to commemorate deceased loved ones. These photos, both beautiful and unsettling, exquisitely posed the dead in their finest clothes and surrounded by their favorite objects. The images were extremely popular in the mid 1800’s and were often the one opportunity to have a permanent likeness of a beloved family member.
For my photographic series, Jenga, I have layered botanical materials, media and dyes on multiple sheets of glass that are separated by Jenga blocks. Each photo, created in camera, is a view into a fantasy world:These are Memento Mori, which memorialize dead insects and small animals whose populations are in alarming decline. The series is named for the game of stacked blocks, which ultimately collapse as supporting blocks are removed one by one. It’s not hard to imagine our world crashing down like the game of Jenga as the supports necessary to sustain us are removed. I produced this series after observing the alarming decrease of the insect population in my garden due to habitat changes, pesticides, deforestation and global warming. These observations made me want to celebrate nature and create Memento Mori to honor these endangered species.
All the insects or animals used in creating the photographs were either found in my neighborhood or purchased from a company that claims the specimens for sale were farm-raised and died of natural causes.