My home in Central Iowa is 6 miles from Interstate 80. Here the deer herd numbers 400,000. They were nearly hunted to extinction in 1900. Now, with no natural predators the animals feed and shelter in endless rows of feed corn. In my agricultural state they are both vermin and trophy.
Year round, the highways are littered with road kill. In the early spring I walk creek beds and ditches to retrieve their bones washed away and cleaned by vultures and insects. The incomplete nature of these skeletons carry evidence of the automobiles that struck them and the gnawed marks of the scavengers they sustained.
I polish the bones to a porcelain shine and then engrave an image of a lacy network onto their surface. With a jeweler’s tool, I carve the bones and remove the marrow from their core. Once hollow and clean I gild the internal chamber with 24 karat gold. I am building a precious relic of something silent and wild that lives and dies by our agriculture, our economies, and our speed.

I make paper for its humility, process, and chameleon nature. The same fiber with different treatment can behave like fabric or leather, silk or fiberglass.

The idea that plant material can behave like skin is important to me. I coat these five foot sheets in gelatin, made from hoofs and bones, and polish the surface to increase the paper’s strength and parchment-like feel.

I traced plant root systems onto the sheets, gilding one set in 24 karat gold, and painting the other in gold auto body paint and then shaped the drawings over my own body. The paper is made more animal by backing them with the groomed hair of wolves or coyote pelt scraps from the garment industry. Cutting away an even more elaborate network allows one drawing to feel both more fragile and more touched.

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