Art from Bones and Scrap Metal

by K-Dean

Joslin sells her art through the Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Pictured are Almeria and Alonia.

What do you get when you combine the skills of visual art and taxidermy? Jessica Joslin’s one of a kind works of art made from the bones of animals and discarded brass scrap metal. Joslin has a unique style of combing bone and other materials in a way that creates a whole new breed of animal and art.

How does she find all these bones to work with? Well at one time Joslin would go on the hunt for roadkill in order to find supplies for her art sculptures. Picking up carcasses of birds and other wildlife was free and handy, but cleaning the bones was another story. She would sometimes find animal carcasses in the woods and wrap them in chicken wire to protect them from being carried away by other wild animals. When she would return several months later, she would find the elements had completely cleaned the bones.

Joslin now buys bones from osteological suppliers, a much easier, cleaner and legal method in collecting bones. She has compiled quite a collection of treasures. She has cabinets and drawers filled with skulls and bones of birds and small mammals.

The main structure of Joslin’s works of art are made from brass. She finds material from junk shops, flea markets, taxidermy supply houses or the forest. Glass eyes, antlers, velvet, springs, leather, and beads are all trinkets and treasures she uses for the sculptures. Joslin takes the raw materials and fuses the pieces together, and drills new threads to assemble the skeletons as they may be made from different gauges of pipes or solid lumps of brass.

As a child Joslin and her father would visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Boston, where her young mind was intrigued by the stuffed birds and wildlife. Her first hands-on experience began when she saw birds of all colors flying into a huge mirrored wall of the Art Institute of Chicago. The birds would break their necks in the collision and land in a pond. They would be fished out with nets and tossed into the trash. Saddened by this waste of beauty, Joslin started to take the birds home and preserve them.

Joslin sells her art through the Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. She says that people either love her work, or find it horrifying. She feels that if the animals in her pieces are going to have a life after death, it might as well be fun. Her variety of sculptures range from a little turtle named Silvio, to her largest piece, Francesca the Ostrich, which stands at eye level. Many of the the animal sculptures she makes balance on balls or ride little bikes, inspired by the Victorian circus theme.

Joslin views animals as muses, she studies her friends and pets to get ideas for poses. On the topic of human bones, Joslin says she has no interest in working with human bones, the controversy would overpower the art. Her own bones however are the exception. Joslin would like to leave a set of instructions behind after she passes so that a structure could be made of her own remains.

Read more:

Curiosa, 2008 | Jessica Joslin

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