Since I started working on At Rest, my own series of photographs depicting memorials I had built surrounding roadkill animals, over six years ago, I have always reacted strongly to the work of other artists who honor dead animals. Tamany Baker, Portia Munson, Maria Ionova-Gribina – those I know of can be found in the “memorial” tag. Kelly Cassel’s Memento Mori, which I was thrilled to find out about via another artist, calls to mind Fleur Alston’s Kit and Caboodle – both series feature painstaking attention to detail and perfect circles. There’s something about Cassel’s work that feels fresh, and almost gritty. The light is so even, it seems supernatural or otherworldly, and looking at the pictures, I feel like I can smell the soil and the vegetation. I love Cassel’s mention of bones in her statement. It makes me think of the innate structure in all things – rituals, life, nature, death.

From the artist’s statement: Death rituals are something that is almost singular to humanity. While they vary from culture to culture, the idea stays the same that a life is being honored and passed on. “Memento Mori” showcases the skeletons of wild animals placed within memorials of natural elements. There is a loss for the ecosystem but also a gain through the nutrients and life provided through the animal returning to the ground. With a focus on the skeletal structure left behind, juxtaposed with some recently deceased animals, the series emphasizes that in the end we are all reduced to bone. These bones too once carried life, one that would have gone unrecognized and abandoned had I not found it. These images immortalize the animal and honor it as just as valuable as human life. There’s something beautifully tragic about death and the process of decay.

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