“Speaking Reliquaries” and Christian Death Rituals: Part One of “Hairy Secrets” Series

Illustrated lecture with Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann
Date: Thursday, January 17

Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $10
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
***Part 1 of a 3 part series “Hairy Secrets; Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Mourning Jewelry”

In tonight’s lecture–the introductory lecture of a 3-part series on human relics and Victorian mourning jewelry–master jeweler and art historian Karen Bachmann will focus on what are termed “speaking” reliquaries: the often elaborate containers which house the preserved body parts–or relics–of saints and martyrs with shapes which reflect that of the body-part contained within.

Bachmann will examine these fascinating objects from an art historical perspective, and discuss their relationship to concepts of human body parts as icons of the immortal. They will be put into the larger context of Christian death rituals, in particular the veneration of saints body parts as sacred and magical relics. Also discussed will be the extremely odd proclivities of a variety of renaissance saints, such as Catherine of Sienna who drank pus from open sores. This will serve as the genesis in our further discussions of human hair, teeth, and nails as icons of the immortal.

Hairy Secrets: Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Mourning Jewelry is a series which will explore in lectures and a workshop the history of the preservation of human remains for reasons sacred and profane, culminating in the flowering of Victorian hair art mourning jewelry, or jewelry which incorporates the hair of the beloved dead.

Lecture One: “Speaking Reliquaries” and Christian Death Rituals (January 17, 8:00 PM)
Lecture Two: The History of the Memento Mori and Death’s Head Iconography (January 24, 8:00 PM)
Lecture Three: The Victorian Love Affair with Death and the Art of Mourning Hair Jewelry and Morbid Anatomy Going Away Party (February 8, 8:00 PM)
Workshop: Victorian Hair Jewelry Workshop with Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann (January 13, 12:00 PM & February 5, 7:00 PM)

Karen Bachmann is a fine jeweler with over 25 years experience, including several years on staff as a master jeweler at Tiffany & Co. She is a Professor in the Jewelry Design Dept at Fashion Institute of Technology as well as the School of Art & Design at Pratt Institute. She has recently completed her MA in Art History at SUNY Purchase with a thesis entitled “Hairy Secrets; Human Relic as Memory Object in Victorian Mourning Jewelry”. In her downtime she enjoys collecting biological specimens, amateur taxidermy and punk rock.

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