In art, “memento more” are symbolic reminders of mortality and in the Christian art context, which emphasizes Heaven, Hell, and salvation of the soul in the afterlife, often a death morbid tribute. Every artist needs materials and technique and Philadelphia-based artist Matthew Cox combines two techniques that you might find it hard to associate, but on a trip to Paris, he had an idea:
“In 2001 my sister and I had a couple of days in Paris together. We had a walk through those long halls of Medieval tapestry at the Louvre and later we realized our mutual respect for the beauty of medical X-rays. I had been thinking for a while about art as self-portraiture, in that it reveals where you are in your experience and interests. When I got back home I began to embroider X-rays… there is a clash between the soft/nurturing/motherly feel of embroidery and the hard reality of medical/illness/slick/photographic film.”
But where do these X-rays come from. They, after all, are personal internal pictures.
“Various places. They are all found X-rays in the sense that none are taken for the purpose of art. Most are given to me by an Australian friend from his family. In Australia, unlike here, the patient holds their own X-rays throughout their life so each person ends up with a stack of their own physical history.”
I just missed Matthew’s most recent exhibit in New York City, Thread Into Film: Embroidered X-Rays, at the Langone Medical Center at NYU. You can see more of his work here.