Sure, the color red has been used in art to represent life and mortality for centuries. But Jordan Eagles takes this concept to another level in his new project Blood Work, which transforms real animal blood into large, vivid abstractions while preserving its natural beauty. Though most would consider his process humane, his unconventional methods are still considered controversial by some. We spoke to the artist about his motivation and how he handles the inevitable protestors.
What led you to want to use blood in your work?
I was exploring philosophical ideas about body and spirit and did not want to be symbolic of blood by just using red paint. Blood is a life force material that is intriguing in its transformative qualities.
What kind of blood do you use? How do you obtain it?
I obtain cattle blood from slaughterhouses. I get the blood in gallon containers and then break them down into smaller, pint size containers and freeze them. I defrost the fresh blood as needed, and then recycle the unused blood, turning it into a dried or pulverized form that is then used to create a variety of additional tones based on the blood’s age.
Is there a specific motivation for your pieces? A message you’re trying to achieve?
The works are a balance between control and nature. They are designed to permanently preserve the organic material to ensure that the colors, patterns, and textures of the blood will not change over time. The works exist as relics of that which was once living, relating to themes of mortality and regeneration. I use various mark-making methods and layering techniques with resin and plexiglass to present the blood’s innate energy.
What sort of things inspire you as an artist? Other art, experiences, etc?
Outer space, myths, religion, science, scale, light.
Have you received any negative response to your methods or materials? How have you/would you handle that?
At one of my exhibitions there was a small protest from an animal right activist group. Some people have preconceived notions about blood and get freaked out by the word itself. In the case of the protestors, I invited them to come inside the exhibition and see the works first hand and then decide how they felt. They declined the invitation. However, I have noticed that when viewers come up to me, more often than not, they express their fascination of the materials and luminosity. I am looking forward to engaging with more viewers in the upcoming months at my exhibitions in NYC, Chicago, LA and Detroit.