Art of the Catacomb
(A four-year collaboration between Mark Roberts and Denise Rouleau)
With this body of work we intend to provoke questions about the nature of life and death; the magnitude of generations, whose bones, artifacts and vain dreams of immortality fill the earth under our feet; the significance of ritual; and the notion of individual identity within the broader scope of the human condition.
Ranging in size from under a foot to twelve feet, the framework of the catacombs consists mainly of vintage printer cases whose original function was to organize metal typeface for printing presses, a technique practiced for centuries and rendered obsolete in the digital age. The boxes are disassembled and reworked into unique pieces of architecture to house individually sculpted mummy-like figures. The clay mummies transform the letterpress cells into a labyrinth of colors and forms. We create the figures in low-fire terra cotta and white clay. The mummies may be glazed or undergo a salt-firing, but in most cases are washed with multiple applications of paint and distressed to give them an aged appearance.
For our inspiration we look to instances through time that move us and offer enduring connections between the past and present. Even within any theme, however, we want the mummy figures to maintain a sense of ambiguity and detachment from any fixed identity. Our culture's fascination with mummies derives from, in part, the sense of a mystery to unravel; they prompt us to question who we are and how we will be remembered.
Artist web site
To view images of the series and learn more about other collaborative work with Mark Roberts, visit the web site.
ROULEAU AND ROBERTS: THE DENIZENS OF TIME 11/10-12/9/06
Caladan Gallery Online Exhibition
Exhibiting the “Art of the Catacomb”
Article written about 2005 Studio Debute of Art of the Catacomb
What the skyways share with the Vatican
Article about skyway display of work