January 09, 2013
David Brinker

'Jordan Eagles: BLOOD / SPIRIT'

The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art will host an opening reception of its newest exhibit Sunday, Jan. 20.

Jordan Eagles BAR 1-9 (detail of BAR 5) 2009. Image courtesy of the artist
Jordan Eagles, BAR 1-9 (detail of BAR 5). 2009. Image courtesy of the artist

The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) will host a free, public opening reception for its newest exhibit, Jordan Eagles: BLOOD / SPIRIT, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20. The exhibition will be on display at MOCRA through Sunday, May 12.

For more than a decade, artist Jordan Eagles has garnered public and critical attention for his unique, signature use of animal blood in his works. Through an experimental, self-invented process, the artist combines blood with Plexiglas, UV resin, copper, gauze and other media to produce arresting works that both fascinate and challenge audiences. The show includes his massive 32-foot-wide abstract mural in blood and resin, BAR 1-9.

Regular museum hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free, though there is a suggested donation of $5 or $1 for students and children. Call 314-977-7170 or visit mocra.slu.edu for more information.

About the exhibition
New York artist Jordan Eagles began using animal blood as a painting medium 15 years ago in response to a philosophical debate with his best friend about life after death and the connection between body and spirit. Traditional red paint fell short of expressing the emotional vitality that Eagles sought, so he ventured to local slaughterhouses. But the works he created changed shade as the blood oxidized, causing Eagles to develop a means of suspending and encasing the blood in Plexiglas and UV resin in a way that permanently retains the organic material's natural colors, patterns and textures. His innovative technique challenges nature by preventing the works from decomposing.

MOCRA is pleased to present for the first time in St. Louis these arresting works that both fascinate and challenge audiences. Eagles' use of blood evokes reflections on the corporeal and the spiritual, on the scientific and the mystical, on mortality and regeneration. In MOCRA's unique former chapel space, the potency of these themes becomes particularly acute.

Even the very processes by which Eagles prepares his medium show a ritualistic sensibility. He uses various mark-making methods, including layering the blood at different densities as well as heating, burning and aging the material. Copper, an electrical conductor, imparts a fiery energy to some works. Loosely woven gauze saturated with blood and encased in Plexiglas echoes burial cloths and ancient wrapping rituals. In some instances, decomposed blood is ground into dust and tossed into the works as a sign of passing and change. Eagles also creates immersive "blood illumination" pieces in which transparent preserved blood works are projected onto the walls. The MOCRA exhibition includes examples of all of these techniques. Highly textural and dimensional works, most incorporating copper, will be presented in MOCRA's side chapel galleries, while a site-specific installation of "blood illumination" pieces will be projected onto the walls and ceiling of MOCRA's balcony gallery. The centerpiece is the massive nine-panel, 32-foot-wide installation, BAR 1-9, on display in MOCRA's central nave gallery.

About the artist
Jordan Eagles received his bachelor's degree in fine arts/media studies from New York University's Gallatin School for Individualized Studies in 1999. Eagles has been profiled in TIME, The New York Times, New York Magazine, FRAME, ArtInfo.com and The Huffington Post, and his work is found in numerous private and public collections, including the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Mass.), the Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton, N.J.), the University of Michigan Museum of Art (Ann Arbor, Mich.), the Addison Gallery of American Art (Andover, Mass.) and the Everson Museum (Syracuse, N.Y.).

His work has been shown at venues including the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (Hartford, Conn.), the High Museum (Atlanta, Ga.), the Elmhurst Museum (Elmhurst, Ill.), the Mobile Museum of Art (Mobile, Ala.), Trinity Museum at Trinity Church, Wall Street (New York, N.Y.) and most recently at the International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago, Ill.). Simultaneous with BLOOD / SPIRIT at MOCRA, Eagles will have exhibitions at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey (Summit, N.J.) and the Everhart Museum (Scranton, Pa.).

About the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art
The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is the world's first interfaith museum of contemporary religious and spiritual art. Officially opened in 1993, MOCRA is dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and the world's faith traditions. Located in a spacious chapel that was used for more than 35 years by Jesuits studying philosophy at Saint Louis University, MOCRA offers a unique, meditative setting for the display of its permanent collection and changing exhibitions. MOCRA's exhibitions demonstrate the range of contemporary religious and spiritual artistic expression, presenting the work of artists of regional, national and international stature.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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