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MOCRA hosts unique gallery of New York artist

Blood and copper are main media in Eagles’ unconventional art display

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20130122-DSC_2220The newest exhibit featured at Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art is comprised of a noticeably non-traditional substance: animal blood.

The new exhibit entitled Jordan Eagles: BLOOD/SPIRIT is composed of three parts: a large nine-panel installation entitled BAR 1-9, vibrant Plexiglas pieces displayed in the side chapel galleries and a “blood illumination” piece along the balcony gallery. The artist does not provide a description for any of the pieces, leaving the interpretation solely up to the viewer. Not all of the pieces have names, either.

“Obviously, the use of blood as a primary medium distinguishes the work of Jordan Eagles from almost everything else we’ve shown at MOCRA. But for me, what sets his work apart is a sense of immediacy. By painting blood onto Plexiglas and encasing the works in crystal-clear UV resin, Eagles creates works that seem to present no barriers to the viewer. At the same time, the multiple layers of Plexiglas establish a certain depth and disorientation that draw the viewer in.

The works resist establishing a clear sense of scale – are we looking at cells under a microscope, or at the birth of a new star?” MOCRA Assistant Director David A. Brinker said. “so some works make me feel like I’m up close to the pulse of life, others like I’m being overwhelmed by an event of cosmic proportions.”

BAR 1-9 is the centerpiece of the exhibit.  The “blood illumination” piece, displayed from a projector on the balcony, gives the illusion that it is one piece; it is actually three separate pieces that are positioned in a way that the animal blood appears to intersect.  The display along the side chapel galleries gives the viewer an up-close look at how the blood lies on the Plexiglas and it also portrays the different textures of the blood.

“As far as viewers, I feel as though the works offer a viewer the chance to experience a material they might not normally come in close contact with.  Additionally, for me, blood emits a powerful energy. I hope that is something the viewer can also feel,” Eagles said.

At first glance, the animal blood gives off the splatter-paint effect, but in a magnificent and artistic fashion.  The artist has truly evoked a sense of passion by using such a natural medium.

“I think that Jordan Eagles has created a body of work that addresses the subjects of life and death and regeneration, as well as suffering, mortality and immortality. Many artists have worked in blood, but Jordan has manipulated the blood in such a way as to create images that are simultaneously unnerving, beautiful, dramatic and haunting. He also uses a lot of copper in his works. For him, since copper is a conductor of electricity, it’s a metaphor for life, and many of the works that have copper incorporated into them convey a feeling of great energy,” MOCRA’s Director Terrence Dempsey said.

Though the medium is the same throughout the collection, not one piece looks the same.

For example, different designs appear on each display – some small, others larger with many different colors. Eagles uses a variety of artistic techniques in the display. He incorporates other materials besides the animal blood, including copper, woven gauze and blood dust.

According to a press release from MOCRA, “[Eagles] uses various mark-making methods, including layering the blood at different densities as well as heating, burning and aging the material.” Another factor that adds character to Eagles’ work is the lighting of the room.  The light of the museum accentuates the pieces, especially the large nine-panel installation, in a way that is similar to stained glass.

“The inspiration is to explore the connection between body and spirit, using the life force material of something no longer living as a way to discuss regeneration and life cycle,” Eagles said. There are 11 pieces total throughout the exhibit.

Eagles received a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts and Media Studies from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. He has been featured  in a wide variety of media, including TIME magazine and The Huffington Post.

Eagles’ exhibit opened Jan. 20 and will stay at MOCRA until May 12.

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