Acrylic Ashes

by M-Gillies

Michelangelo cut up stolen cadavers to see how the human body worked so he could make his art, like his Genesis frescoe above, more real and didn’t have permission to do so. Using donated cremains in art doesn’t seem so unusual in comparison.

Art has always been used throughout history as a means of expression, thought-provoking exploitation and pushing the boundaries of controversy. Whether it be the taxidermic animal sculptures of Angela Singer; the graphic photography of dismembered arms and heads of a human corpse by Joel Peter-Witkin; or the iconic The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living contemporary art piece by Damien Hirst, which saw a dead shark placed in a glass steel container filled with formaldehyde, the evolution of art has often been one of constant metamorphosis.

To date, with art pushing the limits of its mediums, particularly in the palettes used, be it bodily floods ranging from fecal matter to menstrual blood, or taxidermic animals to cadaverous limbs, it is Canadian artist Marc Seguin’s art which been making headlines as of recent.

Earning notoriety by incorporating the fur and feathers of dead animals in his art, Seguin’s art quickly saw a transition as he began using the cremated remains of donated ashes into his art. While not entirely pieces of posthumous memorial tributes, his art has been laden with symbolism toward society’s continuous downfall into corruption, scandal and war.

“The human experience has been a failure, we are continuing by default,” Seguin said in a recent interview. “It’s the symbolism of using human ashes that’s important here, of life, leaving a trace.”

With his visceral art turning heads, particularly in New York, the art community is seeing Seguin as an international star in the making. Having created artwork from the cremains of several bodies in the last two years, Seguin is interested in the donated cremains of loved ones, and while this may seem like a morbid request, it first came about when a friend offered the ashes of his mother for one of the artist’s works.

Despite the discomfort using the cremains of a person may be for some, Seguin said he hasn’t received any criticism for his choice in palettes. In fact, it isn’t a new trend that sees organic elements incorporated in artists’ paints, as animal blood is still used to make reds.

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