The Covid lockdown permitted me great deal of time in my garden and for long walks in the parks and Aqueduct trail near my home. I produced this series after observing the alarming decrease of the insect and small mammal population due to habitat changes. These observations made me want to celebrate nature and create Memento Mori to honor these endangered species.
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 series, Jenga, I’ve layered botanical and other materials, media and dyes on multiple sheets of glass that are separated by Jenga blocks. With each photo, created in camera, I feel that I too am creating Memento Mori to honor and memorialize insects and other small animals whose alarming decline due to habitat changes, pesticides, deforestation and global warming makes their recognition all the more poignant. The series is named for the game of stacked blocks that ultimately collapse as supporting blocks are removed, one by one. It’s not hard to imagine our world crashing down like the Jenga blocks as the supports necessary to sustain us are removed.
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.