ABOUT THE WORK ON THIS WEBSITE:

 

Jewelry/Wearable Art: 2010 to the Present

Most of the pieces depicted here are from 2010 - 2020 and are directly related to fecundity, sex -- and generally take a playful look at some of the more tumescent or otherwise animalistic aspects of life. A silver ring dripping a tiny bead on a chain is titled “Pregnancy”; a ring with a single embedded tourmaline and swirling silver pludes is titled “Sperm and Egg.” In 2019 I created wearable milkweed seedpod earrings; the sale proceeds of which are donated to charities dedicated to preserving the Monarch Butterfly.

 

Sculpture (Hybrids and Chimera): 1977 to the Present

For more than two decades, my work has been obsessed with the concept of “chimeras” – modern-day scientifically created versions of the mythological creatures, genetically engineered fusions of more than one animal: chickens bred without feathers, beef bred from buffalo and cow (“beefalo”).* In my studio I take things a step further, into the more ethically charged and aesthetically grotesque arena of fusions of animal and human. I have cast, for example, the bodies of a raw chicken and a human doll baby in resin, taking pains to seamlessly unify the separate elements into a believable whole. I have mixed the body of a giraffe with the cast head of a female mannequin, her face “made up” with false eyelashes and her mouth filled with acrylic casts of my own teeth. If viewers look into the mirrored tiles that cover the plinth on which she stands, they will see a reflection of the human vagina I placed on her underbelly. 

 

Overall, my hybrid creatures are vulnerable, whimsical, and can act as lighting rods for the viewer’s catharsis. The wall label I placed next to “Domesticated Primate Children” 2013 was intended to make the viewer fill in the blanks with their own (horrific?) assumptions. “These caged primate/human babies are awaiting the assignment of parents in a nursery that, clearly, has been left unattended.” One of the cages/cribs in which the babies rested had its door left ajar, and all the babies’ chests were activated by an unseen motor, rising and falling to realistically imitate the steady breath of deep sleep.

 

I continue to work with chimeric and genetic hybrids, and plan to continue for as long as scientists create new hybrid life in labs. I feel compelled to make my own subjective response. Absurdity is rampant in most every instance of this new frontier of science. In my work, I posit such weirdness as a given, and allow the viewer to slowly contemplate how they might accept these new beings. 

 

 

Installation/Mie-en-Scene: 2011 to the Present

Much of my work is site sensitive or intentionally installed to create an immersive atmosphere for the viewer to experience the range of mediums -- and the message -- of the work. Depicted here is a photograph of myself in 15th-century costume, standing in my studio at Montclair State University which I had converted into a mise-en-scene. The “old” damask wallpaper was my own design; the necklace that I wear was a unique design that I made out of actual eggs wrapped in copper.* I intentionally included numerous modern elements in the installation -- like the air conditioner unit and plastic water bottles -- to increase the sense of anachronism, and, once the photo was developed, purposefully stained it with tea to give it a feeling of age. I wanted a mix of styles and chronologies that would leave the viewer guessing. 

I felt rather vulnerable, emerging from my studio after being sequestered for the three months it took me to complete this project – of which this photo is the sole complete document—and I put careful attention and meaning into the various elements.

 

*The eggshells are fragile, the copper, strong, and, taken together, were a symbol for me of new beginnings -- specifically my decision to enter a graduate program in the competitive field of contemporary art where I knew that many of my colleagues and teachers would be much younger than myself. 

 

Murals: 2015

Pictured here is “Jump Eternal” the mural and site-specific wall paintings I created for the NU Hotel l in Brooklyn. All the elements referenced Coney Island -- its iconic Parachute Jump in particular. In the margins of the room were lampposts, urban architectural elements, and cloudscapes. Sand tones, and warm coastal blues evoked the vast geography in a sensory way, and the architectural silhouettes, a sense of nostalgia. The many years I spent growing up in this area inspired my approach here, as well as the novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

 

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*The current scientific definition of ‘chimera’ is any organism composed of cells derived from at least two genetically different zygotes. Translation: featherless chickens (bred for ease of production); mice with human brain cells; hybridized creatures like the geep (sheep+goat), liger (lion+tiger), beefalo (buffalo+cow), and donkra (donkey+zebra). In 2009, the world’s first primate chimeras were created in a laboratory from from several different species of monkey embryos. Human/animal chimeras are next.

 

The Guardian, “‘Chimera’ Monkeys Created in Lab by Combining Several Embryos Into One,” Jan 5. 2012. Accessed Jan 14 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/jan/05/chimera-monkeys-combining-several-embryos

BBC News, “Bald Chicken ‘Needs No Plucking,’” May 21, 2002. Accessed Jan 14 2020.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2000003.stm

Haraway, Donna, When Species Meet, 2008. Posthumanities, Vol. 3; University of Minnesota Press.

EK

© 2020 Jamie Lehrhoff Levine. All Rights Reseved

© 2023 by EK. All rights reserved.

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