Drawing inspiration from the natural sciences, Dutch still lifes and human curiosity about both beauty and death, Jennifer Trask creates installations using such found materials as bones, antique frames and gems. Her materials and subject matter make clear art historical references to the Dutch Golden Age tradition of Vanitas, which often juxtaposed skulls with objects from nature to comment on man’s vacuous material existence. However, instead of placing oppositional forces next to one another, Trask collapses them in a symphony of natural and man-made elements.
Artworks like Still Life with Flowers, Serpent, Pearls, and Nest are wildly ornate. A bone yard of tiny vertebrae and slender wishbones cascade in a swooping downward shape, creating a sense of movement that is paradoxical to the lifeless materials. Antlers are woven within and follow the curves of the gilded auricula frame. Like Trask’s contemporary composition, the frame was inspired more than 400 years ago by biological forms, and today, effectively conveys a sense of life within death, particularly when one notices the budding flower, centered at the bottom.
In contrast to the elaborate Still Life, Trask’s most recent works are smaller, more intimate and more precious. Tulipa Bunch, carved from bone and antler, is strikingly realistic, with delicate, nearly-transparent petals and textured, slightly-wilted leaves.