As you readers are probably all aware at this point I kind of enjoy slightly dark and morbid works of art. It seems there are a growing number of artists who are re-purposing dead animals and insects and making stunning artwork. Kristen Jarvis is one of those artists. She started by making fairy wings out of deceased cicada wings. My favourite pieces are her crystallized animal skulls. Her work has grown by leaps and bounds and I look forward to seeing each new pieces she puts out.
1. Where are you from?
Gastonia, NC, United States
2. How did you first get interested in making your unique sculptures?
Everything really started with my fairy wings. When you think of art, you think of drawings and paintings, and of course that's how everything truly started. With those mediums I always felt stuck and unhappy with my work so I needed to move onto something different.
3. What is the process in crystallizing a skull?
I think part of the beauty of my art is that each item is a magickal expression of myself that leaves the viewer questioning, "What.. How!?" I've gone through a long process of trial and error to figure out what works best for me, with preferred tools and supplies, etc. The end result is my unique "style" that wouldn't be right to share.
4. There are two other artists that I know of who do similar work: Gerard Geer and Tyler Thrasher. Is this a growing art medium? and if so, why is it becoming popular?
I've actually never heard of Gerard Geer, and I only found Tyler after being compared to him since he's a bigger name in the crystallized bone world. I'm not really sure why it is becoming so popular, but it's kind of scary in a good and bad way!
5. How did you get started making the cicada earrings?
Starting at a young age, I was determined to find my true artistic style that defined me. Everything I created was so scattered. The only thing that tied one piece to the next was my signature, and I wasn't happy with that. Looking at any painting van Gogh painted, you could identify, yeah, Vincent van Gogh painted that. Then I'd look at my paintings and drawings and just stare disappointed. Everything laid out in front of me could have been done by anyone. I was painting for up to 8 hours everyday trying to find myself. I burnt myself out. I lost inspiration.
Nearing the end of my seventeenth summer, I stumbled across something that I normally wouldn't pay any attention to, a dead cicada. They are an animal, kind of, and I'm an animal lover. Cicadas were no exclusion to that. Alive, they have always intrigued me, and I'd hold them in my hands in admiration. Dead, not so much. Even though this one cicada was dead, I picked it up carefully by the wings. It had sat there so long in the dry summer's heat that the wings just fell off. I was mortified, but still clutched the wings. It was much easier to examine them this way. Nature has always been inspiring to me, and it was incredible that nature could create something so small, beautiful, and delicate. I didn't want to see those wings go to waste, so I kept them.
About a month went by before I stumbled across them again in my room, and it hit me. They were the absolute perfect size for a fairy. That's where it all began. I had finally discovered what I was meant to do. I was using nature as my canvas now and adding magickal touches to anything that I found interesting like, insect wings, bones, and even crystals.
6. I can imagine that doing taxidermy and adding crystals to skulls and dead animals you've gotten some hate? What's the best complaint you've gotten?
Hmm.. the best? By best do you mean the most hateful? Pardon the language, but this is a comment I received several months ago when my art was posted on Reddit, "Fucking weirdo i will eradicate your kind off the face of the universo." That one kind of stuck with me.
7. What is your favourite animal?
My favorite animal is the Black Tailed Prairie Dog.
8. Where do you find the materials you need?
I have lots of different sources for everything. It really depends on what I need and when I need it. The majority of my materials I find myself, or am given by friends.
9. How long does it take to make the earrings?
This is a tricky question to answer. My earrings aren't something I can just sit down and make several pairs quickly and at once. There are many time consuming processes I have to go through. Usually I complete a step and have to wait a day or two before moving onto the next so it can take weeks to finish one pair!
10. How long does it take to make one of the skull sculptures?
This is another tricky question! It really depends on the skull and the condition I get it in.The cleaning process is definitely the most time consuming and can't be rushed. It can take months to thoroughly process and clean each skull before I can even start the crystallization process. Once that's done, the longest time It usually takes is 2-3 weeks, but for larger skulls it can take much longer.
11. How long does it take to make the mummified pig?
Mummification is also another process that cannot be rushed. You have to fix the specimen with formaldehyde or formalin, and then dry them which can take a very long time.
12. The Deer skull with the lamp attachment is awesome, do you have plans to make more sculptures like that?
It's funny you asked that! I made my first night light skull nearly 6 or more months ago and never got around to making another one until this past week! I do plan on making more in the future as well.
13. Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies? Or maybe another delicious cookie?
I don't recall ever seeing a cookie in the US called Fudgee-O, so I guess I'd default to Oreos, but only dipped in milk. But Oreos will never compare to homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Check out Kristen's Etsy page for everything she has available. If you’re lucky enough to live in the States you’ll be able to get something. Alas, as a lowly Canadian I’ve no choice but to enjoy the work she shares online as she doesn't ship outside the USA.