Each year, 1.23 million deer are hit by cars in the U.S. As cars pass by these animals every day, drivers are unfazed – why would one take a second thought at a sight so common? Artist Lee Emma Running, on the other hand, sees beautiful potential art rather than roadkill.
Running is, in her own words, “in love with the bones themselves.”
Mount Mary University was extremely lucky to have Running showcase her work in the school’s gallery from October 16 to November 16. On November 16, she gave more information on her unique work in a lecture open to the public located in room 109 of Mount Mary University’s Gerhardinger Center.
Running’s artwork shown consisted of animal fur, bones, gold, and paper. The polished bones appeared to be as beautiful and white as porcelain; the paper appeared to be animal skin. After being polished, each bone is engraved with flecks of gold, truly portraying art far beyond what the bone once looked like laying on the ground.
She started working with these materials as she fell in love with the landscape of her current resignation in Grinnell, Iowa. She used to see Iowa as “a whole lot of nothing” until she recognized its true beauty. She finds her materials for her sculptures there, and most are found on the side of the road. The bodies of the deer she finds remind her of “white sculptures in the ground.”
Running has also made art beyond sculptures. Her gallery showcased videos and photography. In one video, Running dressed herself in deer hide to show her audience that she is the same size as a deer. She wanted to provoke her audience to think to themselves, “Why are we okay with this everyday violence?” What if a woman was laying in a ditch, rather than a deer?
Although Running wants to provoke thought, she does not believe that artists are policy-makers; she believes that artists are “noticers.”
This video contains more information on Running and her work.