Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Skeleton in the Drawing Closet

Once a few weeks before obtaining my undergraduate degree, I borrowed my father's keys to the art department. After midnight, a friend and I removed the skeleton on the right from the drawing classroom and installed it into the art gallery exhibition. It was placed prominently in the center of the space and was well illuminated the moment the gallery director turned the lights on the next morning.

When returning to Boise last month, I requested to photograph the skeleton in the drawing closet. It lives in another building now and is missing an arm. I was surprised to see that the once white anatomical man on the left was still in use. Its presence was often featured in drawings displayed in the hallways. It, too, was missing its right arm but I found it on the shelf above and reattached it for this photograph.

I was a child when I first encountered that skeleton. Back then I wondered who that person was before they died and how their bones came to live at Boise State. Last month these thoughts persisted: what does one do with an aging and decrepit skeleton in an Art Department? Can it be discarded or repaired? How long before its life after death has run its course? Many years later, I no longer recognized it as human and it felt as false as the model on the left.

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