I feel really lucky to be able to use the internet to find new artists working with subject matter so interesting to me almost every day, but even then, I come across someone I consider a “kindred spirit” pretty infrequently.  I think what Joy Hunsberger is doing is fantastic on many different levels.  She’s created a great “manifesto” along with this work, so without making this post any more text-heavy, here’s an excerpt.

A lot of people don’t understand my art. They think I’m trying to shock people, or that I’m romanticizing death or dark ideals. None of these is the case. My work is actually a very deep, ancient conversation.

My obsession with taking pictures of roadkill is rather complex. In its simplest, most intentional form, it is a deeply spiritual ritual that pays homage to our four-legged ancestors, a practice in compassion, and also a raw energetic connection to the natural world. It is also a critical dissection of our/my place in the current world, and an apology for our/my disruptive influence upon it.

Hovering over these precious vessels that once held life, trying to shine a light in the dark, I am now able to acknowledge that I have slowly been transforming my camera into a shamanic tool all these years. Over time, my toolbox has grown; but the camera is still the point of contact. In many ways, my work creates new pathways for both the deceased and also for the viewer. This practice further prods all the questions I’ve ever had about the separation and integration of art, life cycles, and spirituality from one another.

All of life is a delicate balance, with our time in this realm balanced by our passing from it. As a society, we fear death because we do not fully understand it, but even more so because we cannot control it. This is an imbalanced view.

Current societal ideals state that we must control as much as possible, shunning any symbiotic relationship with nature, any ideas of impermanence, and anything that is not immediately gratifying to the ego, in favor of the illusion of security, born from control.

This upsets the balance of life.

In truth, anything that we cannot control tends to become unacceptable, eventually becoming intolerable. In our casual conversations, we tend to shy away from any prolonged observation of our mortality, as it is considered distasteful, vulgar, and sometimes dangerous. The topic of mortality is generally considered to be uncomfortable in the current culture as a whole, and as such, is even sometimes used as a means to steer public opinion.

In the end, people seem to be afraid to think of their bodies as merely temporary arrangements of atoms which house an eternal life-force. They are attached to their limited, constructed ways of thinking, and any change scares them. For this reason, my work is often not well-received.

… In the current culture, many people need to drive to get to their jobs. Driving = job = money = food & shelter. Without food & shelter we would die. So the short equation is: driving = life and its counterpart, not driving = death. So many people drive each day in order to avoid death, and are willing to play the odds of taking the life of an animal, a human, or even themselves, in order to try to circumvent a more probable demise, given the equation. What this boils down to is that those people are willing to swap the (perceived) more probable risk of losing their own lives, with the (perceived) less probable risk of taking another’s life.

When we see an animal in the street, most people do not recognize them for the sacrifices that they truly are.

Visit artist's site: joyh.com