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Final Farewell: The Culture of Death and the Afterlife

Memento Mori

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The Elements: EarthThe Elements: Earth

Born in California, Bartlett has traveled the world, lived in France and collaborated with printmakers in Japan. She studied at Mills College and Yale, and now lives and works in New York City. Bartlett fluctuates between painting, drawing, printmaking and object making and often combines two or more of these media. The Elements: Earth is part of an extensive series that began with four oil paintings of the elements — air, water, earth and fire — from which Bartlett developed pastel drawings and then concluded with prints that correspond to various accompanying objects.

Bartlett’s The Elements: Earth links our physical lives to the place where we return after death. The skull, appearing prominently in the printed image, and the box are memento mori symbols, reminding viewers of the corporal body’s inescapable connection to death and ultimate return to the earth in a coffin. The combination of the two- and the three-dimensional also suggest a link between our earthly existence and the intangible afterlife.

The Elements: Earth boxJennifer Losch Bartlett
(American, b. 1941)
The Elements: Earth
1992
Softground etching and aquatint; Enamel on wood and brass
(97.19.4.1 and 2)
Gilbreath-McLorn Museum Fund


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