Ossifrage: The Scavenger
This is one of four ensembles I created for my art installation at the Oceanside Museum of Art, Birds of a Different Feather. The installation features male garments as the centerpieces of dioramas portraying different bird-inspired characters. This particular piece was a collaboration with my friend, Marty-O, who shared the exhibit hall with me. She did the vintage wedding gown chandelier.
This character was inspired by the ossifrage (a.k.a. bearded vulture), whose diet consists almost exclusively of bone marrow. The scavenger of scavengers, the ossifrage will eat carcasses several months after the flesh and organs have been consumed by other organisms. In fact, they actual don’t like to eat the actual meat, which makes them, in a way, some version of vegetarian. They are known to be highly intelligent and resourceful, learning how to drop bones (and also tortoises!) from a great height to crack them open.
In the past, scavenging has been associated with cowardice, the inability to hunt one’s own prey. But in these modern times, scavenging is seen as resourceful, responsible, and respectable. Hunting is wasteful.
This work extends the scavenger theme to the game theory of the dating world. While the eager males actively seek mates, the scavengers sit back and relax, swooping in to snag the leftovers. Without the urgency to woo and breed, the patient ones instead devote their time and energy to improving themselves by building careers, developing hobbies, and acquiring various skills and experiences, thus increasing their value as a prospective mates. It is these late-bloomers who become the most eligible bachelors.
All materials used in this ensemble are scavenged and/or upcycled:
- Plague doctor mask made from scraps of quilting cotton used to make face masks for the covid pandemic.
- “Hyena” jumpsuit - jersey knit, lycra. Originally completed as a commissioned piece in 2018 but client cancelled order after completion.
- Trench coat - upcycled boat curtain canvas, upcycled scrap leather, upcycled lining,
- Corset: upcycled leather boots, upcycled leather handbag, upcycled leather belts, grommets, chain, feathers*
- Neckpiece: upcycled leather handbag decoration, possum skull (work trade with local artist Bits and Bones), other animal bones (found locally), brass findings, red silk thread left over from restringing my guqin
*Feathers on the corset and earrings were naturally shed feathers from a local 52-year-old (as of 2021) amazon parrot named George.
Outdoor shoot: modeled by Bradley Hunt, photographed by Beck Campbell (of Bits and Bones).
Check out the other three birds from my exhibit: