Shanell Papp combined her love for crochet and the macabre to come up with her art installation, Bawdy
The human body has fascinated artists since time immemorial, including the great Leonardo Da Vinci. Shanell Papp, a Canadian artist, is the latest in a long line to make art out of the human anatomy. Combining her love for crochet and macabre, Shanell Papp has created Bawdy, a life-size model of the human body including all its organs. She started the research project in 2005, as an art student at the University of Lethbridge. Papp worked over four months on design and spent another four months on the skeleton and the internal organs. "I made the skeleton, in order to explore my body while I was an art student at the university of lethbridge," said Papp, according to a report by Designboom.
The final installation involves the crochet skeleton lying down on a gurney with the separate organs giving it the feel of a lab. Papp opened up on what inspired her to create the installation. "Before making this work I had a keen interest in medical history, Frankenstein, Enlightenment thinking, the Victorian period, the birth of industry, crime investigation, mortuary practices, and museums. I made the work to explore my interest in the human body."
The installation has incredibly detailed textured work and is both an exhibition of technical skill and of wonder. The detailing on the installation is quite astonishing. "Some see it as a playful and jokey piece but when I made it, I was pretty serious about making a very exacting replica of the human body. There are parts of the work that nobody sees–the brain has gray and white matter, the bones have marrow, the stomach has half digested food in it. I made it to understand my body better and I think this is why people like it,” said Papp.
Shanell Papp taught herself how to crochet at the age of 9. Another inspiration for most of her artwork is her interest in the macabre. "I grew up down the street from a large graveyard," Papp said. "I also partially blame my family and my upbringing for my macabre interests. My family lived on a farm for a time and I was taught to care for and kill animals. My aunt and my older sister cleaned hospitals. My brother has worked as a hospice worker. It seems that death was always present. I was raised in a house free from any religious trappings, so I had no conception of an afterlife."
She deeply enjoys the process and likes to spend a lot of time with her artwork. "I use labor-intensive and time-consuming techniques to prolong the process stage of making artwork. I like to spend time with my work," said Papp.
Shanell Papp likes to use different mediums to express her ideas and thoughts including video, but crochet and knitting are her main mediums.
She also makes knit corpses, knit anatomicals, knit dissected-animal carcasses. When asked if there were takers for this kind of macabre art, she responded, "The greatest part of the work is that it is a conversation starter, it gets people to comfortably talk about uncomfortable subjects. It is really great to watch people talk about the work, I sometimes pretend like I didn’t make it…..they always wanna put their hand into the intestines, it is very strange, like some kind of a dissection urge?!” said Papp, in an interview with Order of the good death.