Mathilde Roussel: Living Art
The works of Paris-based artist Mathilde Roussel revolve around the themes of life and decay in nature. Using vegetation and other living organisms as media in her work, Roussel explores the cycle of life and death.
Homo Arboretum is one of these living works, wrinkling and filling out with the changing weather conditions. Designed in the shape of human organs, it is a symbol of the lungs that breathe life into the heart of the city of Nashville. What is most heart-warming (no pun intended) about this piece is that it was a collaborative effort — it is composed of red clothing donated and stitched together by Nashville residents. It has received positive response in Nashville, and appeared so huggable to young children that the artist eventually had to have a guardrail built around it. (Can you blame the little ones? It is a veritable pillow play structure.)
In another work, entitled Echology, Roussel filled etched glass jars with natural substances that represented human body fluids and substances. With time, the living substances slowly changed, echoing the process of metamorphosis and decay that our own body parts, substances and fluids undergo when their life source is cut off. [To see the before and after shots of the substances, click here]
Similarly, her series Lives of Grass is another metaphor for the transformation of the human body over time. As described on her website, “Time sculpts the forms, makes them change and then decay”. These sculptures also draw attention to the fact that food (here represented by the wheat grass) has a profound impact on living beings, becoming a component of our body and affecting every single organ system once ingested. With this work, Roussel hopes to make viewers more sensitive to food and nature cycles and, on a greater scale, to the issues of abundance and famine, so that we may be more aware of our global reality.
For more fantastic living art, I encourage you to visit Roussel’s website here.
- Gabrielle Doiron