For Students

New Acquisition: Jordan Eagles

Jordan Eagles, TSBC3, 2011, blood, copper, and UV resin on Plexiglas, UMMA, Gift of Lillian Montalto and Robert M. Bohlen, 2011/2/1

New York-based multimedia artist Jordan Eagles has been painting with animal blood for fifteen years, refining a process to transform what is essentially biological waste into an extraordinary expressive tool. "Sometimes I think of myself as an alchemist," the artist says, as he describes his ambition to bring a once-living substance back to life, and to develop a body of work that explores essential questions about life and death.

Eagles's fascination with these questions began as a New York University student in the late 1990s. In his early art experiments he tried, and failed, to capture the aesthetic of blood using various red paints as facsimiles. His frustration led to a simple revelation: paint with blood itself.

He first purchased blood from a meat market in New York's Chinatown, and learned the hard way that decaying blood is as unpleasant as it is visually intriguing. Today he buys fresh blood from local slaughterhouses and freezes it in batches. Blood leftover from a day's work is deposited in open-air trays, where it is allowed to dry slowly into bricks of odorless powder. The powder can be mixed with fresh blood or crumbled by hand onto the composition.

In TSBC3, cow's blood is blended with UV resin and applied in successive layers to a Plexiglas frame. Layers of a blood and copper powder mixture are also brushed or dripped onto the surface. The fourth crucial ingredient is light, which reveals the contrasting textures and colors of the materials. Eagles calls TSBC3 an "energy" piece. The radial forms mimic patterns in nature, evoking for the artist "the birth of a star, the head of a volcano, or the pupil of an eye" while remaining fundamentally abstract.

Ruth Keffer
Guest Curator

UMMA is grateful to Lillian Montalto and Robert M. Bohlen for their generous gift of this important work of art. The impact of the Bohlens' long association with the Museum has been felt in numerous ways, through their naming of the African Gallery and donations of many significant works of African and wood art, treasures enjoyed by Museum visitors each day.

Jordan Eagles's piece TSBC3 will be on view at UMMA from May 15 through September 2, 2012.