Updated: May 18, 2022
Growing up in Colombia during times of turmoil, skulls were associated with death and despair. I was fortunate enough to never stumble upon a human skull, but an animal skull found randomly always reminded me of ecological losses or neglected, starved livestock and rural families fleeing from the violence. All these were consequences of the civil war that had raged in the country for decades. Skulls were an ill omen for any Colombian. However, upon my arrival to Montana, I was exposed to a different, positive outlook on them. Mainly, skulls as a form of art and celebration not only of the animal it belonged to, but also of cultural traditions. I saw skulls painted in bright colors and aboriginal motifs, decorated with beads, feathers, or carved into lace-like, intricate designs. Skulls were an extremely versatile base for beautiful artwork. I was blown away by the ingenuity of local artists when it came to skulls, and it prompted me to start experimenting on my own.
One particular artist was the catalyst for this new movement: Jennifer French. A local Montanan, Jennifer combines the rustic, organic forms of animal skulls (namely deer, cow and bison) with gorgeous English Crewel designs. I was awed by the exquisite detail and vivid colors of her work, as well as how these delicate designs curved around the skulls' surfaces with such ease and harmony. I had the chance to intern with her for a couple of days, and watching her work was truly a privilege! I learned so much from this experience, and pushed me to develop my own style of decorated animal skulls. I decided to create a fused style that combined the Western vibe of the skulls with the psychedelic vibe of my beloved Salsa music aesthetic. And so, my embellished skulls were born!!
Check out Jennifer's website here!