I created this still life in collaboration with Graveyard Wanders - who provided the candles, my own version of Philippe de Champaigne's Vanitas (c. 1671), after months of planning and altering my composition and color scheme. This piece is an ode to my deep love of symbolism. I took the original’s very stark presentation and transformed it into something within my own lush and chaotic visual language.
Life, or the splendor of spring blooms. The flowers represent the beauty of our human lives. Redolent and vibrant. When we are born, we burst into full color and though we begin to decay the second we breathe, our lives are worth living, to show our beautiful and unique colors before they fade.
Death: the skull. It peers through the hourglass, through time, waiting for the place to appear when the last grain falls. To me, death is not a specter waiting to strike, it is simply a somber friend waiting to pick you up when the party is over.
Time, an hourglass. Grains of translucent sand slipping down. The song of time is the soft swish of the sand flowing steadily through the opening until there’s nothing left but silence and the footsteps of death coming nearer.
The candles are the fourth and final symbol, not present in the original. Candles are a representation of all three of these - Life, Death, and Time. An unlit candle is a new life about to be struck into light. A candle burning, the short, but bright lifespan of a human. When the candle burns down and the light gutters out, death takes hold. The smoke fades into nothing, and our old friend Death guides us into the great beyond.
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