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Azarian-McCullough Art Gallery (AMAG) Presents: “The Deer is Broken: Road kill in the Domestic Space”

posted Oct 10, 2012, 7:16 AM by Bridget Clark   [ updated Oct 18, 2012, 11:17 AM ]

Works by Cara DeAngelis      

“The Deer is Broken: Road kill in the Domestic Space”                        

Exhibit Dates:         10/1 - 10/28/12

Reception:              10/11/12   4:30 – 6:30


Cara DeAngelis’ work will no doubt engage our curiosity and perhaps jar a few sensibilities, for the subject matter of “road kill” is not pleasant. Most of us, no doubt, squeamishly steer around dead animals on the highway, and in those instances having caused such death, regret the loss of an innocent creature. 

Why then would DeAngelis choose to make “road kill’  the focus of her work? and . . . What is it about these paintings that strangely attracts us?

More specifically, why are we captivated by the curious juxtaposition of an elegantly gowned woman with a dead fox in her lap? (Woman with Road kill III), or by a richly colored still life (Big Bird and Road Kill ) that places a doll, stuffed animals, a figurine, the Sesame Street icon and other childhood paraphernalia in the company of a dead rat and mouse?

Is there some message behind these intriguing oddities?

DeAngelis notes that,

“Living in CT did directly affect the work I produce now. Road kill is a huge phenomenon across the United States and is extremely common in CT, where deer are rampant and overpopulated, and there is the ever-expansion of roads and highways that dislocate certain species continuously.

I became obsessed and fascinated with the death I would see on the side of the roads. From the mysterious, detached legs of deer to the twitching squirrel, I hated looking, but also felt that I had to. One day, after a funeral – how appropriate –  I stopped and picked up my first road kill.

When I started painting road kill, I quickly realized many of these animals killed on the road were species that used to be ‘the kill’ in hunting sport. I began to see them as the modern kill, now that people don’t really hunt for their food. (At least not in CT!) Instead it’s done with cars by mistake, and the carcasses are never eaten or used for anything."

 Another DeAngelis statement notes that the two central themes of her work are the tragic and the infantile.  The former has to do with a modern societal disconnect with nature, or as the artist puts it,  a  “…long-standing alienation between the domestic and the wild.”  The latter, DeAngelis suggests, has to do with nostalgia, but it may be, as well, a loss of innocence.

"Big Bird with Roadkill II"
Oil on canvas