Emma Fick Art

Fine Art Prints

Magnolia Memento Mori 1

Magnolia Memento Mori 1


Printed on archival, 100% cotton Hahnemühle Museum Etchings paper. 

Limited edition run of 50. Each signed and numbered by the artist. 

7x10" (paper dimensions only; print comes unframed and un-matted).

Original: watercolor and ink on Arches cold-press paper, 2017.


I first became interested in memento mori-- Latin for "remember you must die"-- paintings when I came across them in Renaissance art. At first glance they might seem morbid, but they're actually a celebration of life, a reminder to enjoy these fleeting mortal pleasures while we can (an iteration of the more pop-culture-friendly carpe diem). Renaissance memento mori paintings incorporated skulls, clocks, burning candles, withering flowers, dead bugs: these little reminders of death were often hidden into an otherwise lush and alive painting, for instance a basket of ripe fruits with a single fruit rotting, or a vase of blooming flowers with a dead bug on the table. The idea was, inserting death -- remember you must die -- into the forefront of art (and life) encourages reflection, meditation, and more intention in daily actions. (It should be noted that memento mori was almost entirely reserved for the elite, who could afford to spend time meditating on their own demise and appreciating their fleeting splendors). 

In the Magnolia Memento Mori series, I combine this European Renaissance concept with highly regional and modern visuals: the core of the memento mori here is the magnolia flower, central to Louisiana visual identity. The modern stylized hand, filled with a kind of starry cosmos and representing universality, holds the core of the magnolia in both fruit and flower forms: to the left, the cone when the flower is in full bloom; to the right, the cone after the petals have fallen away and seeds are getting ready to fall, the final stage of the life cycle. The background depicts fallen petals against a pitch-black background-- the fleeting nature of the bloom, the darkness to which all life must return. The Magnolia Memento Mori I is a modern, Louisiana-specific expression of a 16th-century Italian Renaissance concept, a hybrid of historic and modern, European and Louisianan visuals.

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