Blood As Art: An Interview with Jordan Eagles
By Ernest Barteldes
The sight of blood can be a gruesome thing for many. People often get squeamish and recoil at its sight, and prefer not to look at it. For others, however, it is a source of inspiration and a thing of beauty. After all, blood is intrinsically linked to both life and death and is also used as a symbol in many religions around the world.
One artist who has this kind of understanding is Jordan Eagles, who has been making works of art with preserved cow’s blood (the process includes mixing it with resin) that he acquires at slaughterhouses. His works includes translucent pieces that react to external light in a very unique manner. More recently, he has been experimenting with large installations and photographic documents of projections on human bodies.
Looking at his work, the viewer almost forgets the source material – the pieces have unique beauty – the light goes through the Plexiglas with interesting results that makes you wonder both about the nature of life and the ultimate finality of death.
Jordan Eagles has exhibited around the country and will have a show at New York’s Krause Gallery (149 Orchard St., New York, NY http://www.krausegallery.com ) starting on March 1st. 2011.
We caught up with Eagles via an email interview, when he talked about his works, his inspiration and the reaction that audiences have toward his work.
I noticed from your website that you have been exploring other shapes – like your Hemo Sapien and New Blood works – is this a new direction you have been looking at?
I am constantly trying new things in my work. My studio practice is a giant experiment. My new works are called “BARCs.” It stands for blood, acrylic, resin and copper. These pieces are more vertical in orientation and are more visceral
You have been doing a lot of shows in different markets… How have audiences reacted to your work in places like Dallas and South Florida? Has it been the same as in the northeast?
There are always some people that have issues and preconceived notions about blood, but most viewers seem to appreciate the finite texture, dimensionally, and luminosity of the works.
You mention on your info page that you are doing site-specific installations. How does that work?
The site-specific installations involve ‘blood light’ projections. This is achieved by preserving blood onto Plexiglas panels that get placed onto overhead projectors – the kind you would find in a classroom or office. Each panel has unique textures and when it is projected into the space, the ‘blood light’ forms and curves with the architecture of the space. It becomes a very organic environment. Multiple panes can get stacked on the overhead projectors in order to change the amount of light, glow and textures that gets projected into the space. Viewers are able to interact with the blood light. In some instances, full-length mirrors are installed so viewers can experience themselves covered in the blood light. The blood light forms so naturally to the body and appears as new layers of skin, epidermal diseases, tattoos and natural birthmarks.
Do you feel that working with the medium you do – does that limit you in a certain way or do you feel it’s more liberating?
Working with blood can be both meditative and exhilarating. And I am always working to develop new techniques that keep my process feeling fresh. I still get a thrill out of the energy that comes from the material, and this keeps me inspired.
How Hemosapien come to be? And the works with copper?
Hemosapien is a project in which I project blood light onto models and document the results. It was also an exhibition that I presented at Aljira, a center for contemporary art in 2009-10.
I use copper mixed with blood as a way to fuse more electricity into the works. It brings another element of energy and a feeling of fire.
You faced a bit of controversy in Connecticut a few years back. Have animal activists been on your case lately?
No, most people understand that the works are about regeneration, energy and bringing death to life.
Learn more about Jordan Eagles at www.jordaneagles.com
Watch a video of Jordan Eagles’ works here: