The Transience of Life & Inanimate Desire

Adriaen van Utrecht, 
Adriaen van Utrecht, 

Adriaen van Utrecht, "Still Life with Bouquet and Skull", 1642.

Growing up in a ballet world, I was always aware of the body and it’s mortality. Ballet portrayed the absolute beauty of what we’re capable of and, contrarily, the limits within our vessel. The juxtaposition of dreamy pirouettes and the torture of pointe shoes illustrated this corporeal life so clearly to me.

I first began incorporating vanitas imagery into my work in 2010 for my BFA Exhibition; I painted a life size skeleton ballerina and added three-dimensional elements. This figure came from an editorial I saw in a foreign Vogue magazine; I depicted her as a skeleton wearing couture clothing to illustrate my thoughts on my own inanimate desire. I was questioning my need for lifeless objects and what endless void they filled.

After graduation I continued making vanitas inspired skulls and they eventually started to resemble sugar skulls.

Fast-forward three years, 3 metal classes, 1 stone setting class and countless hours of self-education in jewelry making and I am still making the sugar skull pendants. I started my business making these figures and I knew that some day I would create this piece in metal form. It is the ultimate representation of my original idea and I cannot wait to see it manifest. 

Here is a little something I wrote some time ago...

Dear Curious,

Your grace is captivating.

You endlessly crave pretty things,

but you know they wont fulfill you.

Don’t ever change.

Even against all odds, don’t ever change.

You can play their game and mind your manners,

but know in your heart that what they seek & what they know is not what you seek or know.

What you love, what you desire, will satisfy any emptiness.

Let it define you, let it drive you, let it make you.

This gives you the upper hand.

So fall deep into love with this thing in your life,

and never forget it…

stay curious...

yours truly.

Adriaen van Utrecht, “Still Life with Bouquet and Skull,” WUSTL Digital Gateway Image Collections & Exhibitions, accessed January 18, 2016,