New Work: When the Bow Breaks

When the Bow Breaks, Encaustic & Mixed Media, 5 x 7, © 2009 Haley Nagy. SOLD.

When the Bow Breaks was created for the upcoming Book About Death exhibit in New York. In the spirit of mail artist Ray Johnson, hundreds of artists submitted stacks of 500 postcard reproductions of an artwork they created to explore the topic of death. Upon the opening of the show, guests will be invited to take the postcards with them. As the stacks dwindle, the exhibition will slowly disappear. In this way, the simple act of removing the postcards from the space mimics the cycle of life and death itself. The exhibit will vanish only to be reborn elsewhere. Furthermore, this show changes the definition of “book” from a single bound volume, to a “loose leaf” collection spread across the globe. It’s similar to the concept of the internet: in the way that information is connected by thousands of lines in a web, the postcards will form a book connected by the intentions of thousands of people.

A Book About Death by Haley Nagy
A Book About Death, Postcard, 4 x 6, © 2009 Haley Nagy.

My submission to the exhibit deals with a particular kind of death. Like most of my work, the images within are highly iconographic. Nests are the places where birds lay their eggs, incubate them, where the nestlings hatch, grow, are fed and develop. Therefore, in this case, the nest represents the womb or motherhood in a way that I hope is understandable to the average viewer. Similarly, the image of a toy rocking horse is a stand-in for the “egg” and represents the infant, the embryo, and the idea of (or potential for) childhood. The red paint leaking from the nest and streaked upon the background is a subtle reference to blood… and ultimately, death itself. Death, intertwined with life, is the topic of this work. In particular, this work deals with the sadness of miscarriage, the loss of the potential life, infertility, missing what you never had and the controversy over abortion.

This show promises to be an awesome, emotional and uninhibited collection of artist’s visual impressions about death. Each submission to the exhibit is also archived online (blog, website). Isn’t it kind of ironic that this book about death cannot decay but will instead be immortalized on the internet?

The original painting, When the Bow Breaks, is for sale on Etsy.


A Book About Death
Opening Reception: Sept 10, 2009. Show runs from Sept 10 – 22, 2009
Emily Harvey Foundation
537 Broadway, New York City, NY 10012

P.S. If you live in the area, don’t miss the Flux Fest at the Boiler the next night.

FluxFest Poster