Luci Jockel grew up in the small town of Indiana, Pennsylvania. She just completed a Master of Fine Arts at Rhode Island School of Design in Jewelry and Metalsmithing in 2016. Her work as been shown at various venues, including Galerie Marzee's Marzee International Graduate Show 2016 where she received the Marzee International Graduate Prize, East Carolina University's Metal Symposium and Society of North American Goldsmiths' Juried Student Exhibition. Her work has been featured in Klimt02's Selected Graduate 2016, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, and other publications.
The animal remains utilized in Luci's work are ethically acquired from animals who have died of natural causes or specimen found by herself or donated to her. Her work seeks to give a voice to the deceased beings in the hopes of building an interconnectivity between human and animal.
My work is a eulogy for fauna. It involves a ritual act of suturing––a ceremonial process of healing. While wandering in the woods, gleaning from animal specimen collections, and negotiating with hunters and beekeepers, I gather the remains of fauna to make jewelry. The fragmented ruins long for a restoration of wholeness; they long to be healed. From their death comes rebirth, new life. Quietly, the jewelry relics reflect the porosity between all things.
Jewelry has a history of holding the power of sentimentality, remembrance, healing, magic, and ritual. Memento mori is the medieval Latin theory and practice of reflection on mortality, meaning, “remember that you must die”. Similar to memento mori, my jewelry is a reminder of death, but not human death: animal death. Rather than contemplating on our own mortality, this work ponders the death and rebirth of fauna and flora as they are pars pro toto, or parts of a whole.
My work references Victorian mourning jewelry, and skeletons of Roman catacombs. These traditions and objects in history utilize the body of the deceased as a tangible bridge to their death. To memorialize the death of another species, I make use of the remains of fox, groundhog, squirrel, muskrat, deer, honey bees, moths as well as lichen and other dried flora. I reformat the remains from fragments into jewelry. To wear the body of another being invites an empathy forgotten in a culture so removed from death.
My use of the remains of fauna is not meant as an exploitation of animals for fashionable accessories. Instead, my intention is to bring awareness of their death and how it relates to our own lives. Interacting with these relics—holding them close to the body—may instill an empathetic awareness of fauna. They are windows through which we can view an earth no less alive than we are. In order to be whole again–– to be one with the animate world, we must notice: the elegant doe who represent the now-unbalanced ecosystem; the muskrat who create shelter for other animals and insects; the honey bees who generate growth and sustain human life; and the trumpet lichen sprinkled on the forest floor that participate in the cycle of life and death.
I long to suture the gap between separated beings, human and nonhuman, and to re-establish an interwoven relationship through magical relics. These works allow for a process of grieving. They are beyond quick sentiment and ask wearers to sit with grief in order to understand the loss our environment endures. With the physical joining of another’s bodily remains to our own living body, we can renew our acquaintance with the sensuous world; we may unearth empathy for fauna. Our estrangement from the animate earth can begin to heal, with the relics of lost voices.
There are those, however, that are not frightened of grief: dropping deep into the sorrow, they find therein a necessary elixir to the numbness. When they encounter one another, when they press their foreheads against the bark of a centuries-old tree...their eyes well with tears that fall easily to the ground. The soil needs this water. Grief is but a gate, and our tears a kind of key opening a place of wonder that’s been locked away. Suddenly we notice a sustaining resonance between the drumming heart within our chest and the pulse rising from the ground.
Photo Credit: Josephine Hjort