Art of The Catacomb

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About Art of the Catacomb

Whether or not their preservation occurred through an extraordinary set of natural circumstances or in accordance with some ancient rite, we view mummies in a curious way. They are repugnant and at the same time captivating.  We are in awe of them, but perhaps do not envy them.  We want to unravel their secrets, but as we search for answers among the bones and artifacts we have to ask ourselves who we are and how we will be remembered.

This body of work is part of an ongoing collaborative series titled “Art of the Catacomb.”  The framework for the catacombs consists mainly of vintage type-face cases which are disassembled and reworked into unique pieces of architecture to house the mummy figures.  We sculpt the mummies in low-fire clay. In most cases they are washed with multiple layers of paint and distressed so they appear to have been recently unearthed.

The work is best described as a collection of stories that prompt questions about life, death, and human nature. Within these vast themes Mark and I have recognized paradox as a reoccurring element within our work.  For example, our first large piece, Paris Underground was inspired by my visit to the Paris Catacombs where nearly six million unmarked skeletal remains line the tunnels for miles.  I was overwhelmed by the amassment and struggled to see them as individuals.  I thought about a quote once made by Stalin, “The death of one man is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.”  We continue to be drawn to juxtaposition and contradiction:  singular and numerous, intimate and colossal, isolation and connection, beauty and ugliness, progress and degeneration, burial and recovery. Within any theme we want the figures to maintain a sense of ambiguity and detachment from any fixed identity; our fascination with mummies derives in part from the sense of a mystery to unravel. Ultimately, we hope our work invites others to wonder and create stories.

Take a virtual tour of the catacombs by Mark and Denise