Christopher marley’s death.
Christopher Marley saw beauty in the dead: snakes, octopuses, bedbugs. Others are also – his works are sold at high-end stores and are on display at the museum of art and natural history.
Scott Simon, host:
You can forget what you think you know about animal specimens. The Oregon artist Christopher Marley transformed snakes, tropical fish and exotic insects into art. Now, his 400 creatures are on display in a large exhibition outside Miami. Aaron Scott of Oregon public broadcasting took us to Marley’s studio.
AARON SCOTT, wired: Christopher Marley is cleaning up the last few animals for his big show.
Christopher marley: I think we’re fine.
Scott:… When he realized that he had forgotten to put a foot shelf in the refrigerator.
Scott: calling it a giant pill is a gross understatement. It seems to be a monster from “starship troopers” or other movie stars.
Mary: that’s true. Yes, they do. They can do some damage. There are some fish caught, you know, they are alive. They found giant feet in their throat or guts and ate them from the inside out. So they’re nightmares. That’s for sure.
Scott: in marley’s hands, they are beautiful things. He kept all kinds of wild animals and put them in a white background frame. Color beetles like mandala. The snake wound around like a complicated pendant necklace. The macaw spread its wings over the rainbow. And the devilfish twist and curl so generously, they seem to be alive.
KENNETH FILCHAK: I don’t see anyone doing that.
SCOTT: Kenneth Filchak is a professor of biology at Notre Dame. He used marley’s work to inspire students.
Scott: marley wants to be an artist when he grows up. But his square jaw and biceps were as talented as a python, and he became a model. When he took photographs, he collected insects and arranged them into a rainbow kaleidoscope. When marley’s fiance persuaded him to display their orders in several stores in Los Angeles, the orders flew in. So he gave up modeling and started looking for a sustainable collector through the country he visited. But his interest is deeper than that.
Mary: in my whole life, we always have dead birds in the fridge.
Scott: marley’s father happens to be a breeder of the rare color mutation in the Australian parrot.
Mary: my father can’t bear to throw these beautiful birds away. Then when I realized that if my father to do it with a bird, I bet you (laughs) most people deal with any type of organism – they love they may do the same thing.
Scott: so marley set up a network of breeders, zoos, aquariums, and importers that killed them. He knew very well that he only used naturally-killed reclamation specimens or caught and caught. He won’t buy from the hunter.
Marley: this is a green mamba.
Scott: the specimens eventually filled the warehouse in Salem, Oregon, and were packed with ice shelves at different stages of decay.
Marley: it’s obviously all pythons and poisonous reptiles and small crocodiles.
Scott: to protect them, marley created a way to freeze dried animals, which scientists usually keep in liquid, which is why they look so active in the frame. He works at high-end stores and displays at the museum of natural history and art. His work appears on the cover of biology textbooks and marley’s own best-selling art books.
MARK PARKER: pheromones and Chris’s next book, Biophilia, are huge design references.
Scott: mark parker is the CEO of Nike and a collector of marley art.
The theme and image of the parker: Chris inspired Nike in terms of color and texture of design work, athletes for the Olympic Games provides a high performance sports shoes, and even Nike Air Max such as a new interpretation of the classic model.
Scott: that’s right. American athletes wore shoes inspired by the image of marley’s sage buqueti beetle at the 2016 summer Olympics. By isolating these creatures from the natural environment, marley wants you to see them again.
Marley: I think the biggest force in this kind of work is to help people keep their eyes open to the changes in nature. Once, when you have this feeling, my god, there are more things that I don’t know – I have never been able to experience this way – it’s just to satisfy the desire to more and more.
Scott: as for Christopher marley’s next project, he’s going deep into the jungles of Malaysia, looking for a corpse that has never been preserved. For NPR news, I’m Aaron Scott.