Inflorescence of Bone

Kirstie McCallum

+15 Window Exhibition
October 4 — November 27, 2015

Inflorescence of Bone

‘Inflorescence of Bone’ is an excerpt from a larger collection of work called Ossa, a series of sculptural photographs and installations that explore the expressive potential of objects, while subtly responding to mountain ecology. In the background of this work are ethical questions about human and animal relationships, but the foreground is an engagement with traditions of still life, abstraction, and materiality.

‘Inflorescence of Bone’ is part of a distinctly process-based project that involves an intimate engagement with the materials. The deer skull salvaged for this project is a by-product of modern hunting culture. The reuptake of this skull into an aesthetic environment feels ethically ambiguous, and this tension is the source of its generative power. What does it mean to include organic matter in artistic discourse – can the object be simply linked to the visual history of similar objects (Western kitsch, American Modernism, historic still life painting, etc.) Does the skull always over-signify, with its own death and decay hovering around it in a subtle manner?

The photographs of ‘Inflorescence of Bone’ were born from these questions. However, as the collection evolves, I find that the skull becomes a catalyst for material exploration. The wrapped object is soft or sleek, depending on its wrapping, and its emotive potential is changed by the material that enrobes it. Texture offers pleasure or repulsion, and the wrapping signifies, conceals, and reveals. Perhaps the bone is nothing more than a frame on which the flesh is hung, and the reinterpretation of “flesh” is the aesthetic gesture? Each time I engage with this “object,” I learn something new about its resistance to interpretation and its persistent occupation of physical and psychological space.


Kirstie McCallum is a multi-disciplinary artist with a background in poetry, ceramic sculpture, and drawing. In 2007 she completed a poetry collection called Osmosis, which explored post-utopian poetics of place, in the Canadian tradition of eco-poetry. Themes from that project continue to surface in her work, as she explores the visual poetics of found and sculptural objects in her latest project, Ossa.

After completing an MA in poetry and literature, Kirstie attended The Banff Centre Writing Studio in 2008. She developed a new collection called Techne, which developed architectural and mechanical metaphors.  Poetry from Techne was published in literary journals, including the Malahat Review, one of Canada’s finest poetry journals. The origins of Techne (in aesthetic theory) eventually led her to explore image-based and sculptural art.

In 2015 Kirstie was an artist-in-residence at The Banff Centre, in a six-week thematic program called Food+Water+Life, led by Lucy and Jorge Orta.  During this time she began work on Ossa, her current collection of image-based sculptural works. Ossa explores tensions between living and manufactured environments; poetic close-looking; and imagist renderings of found objects and every-day environments.

Projects in development include Pulsar, on intangible animated objects, and Amorphous, a photo series about viscus substances.