Made Flesh

Made Flesh: Art as Resurrection After Auggie’s Death is an interrupted graphic novella project. Consisting now of eleven panels created through digital collage (found and created photographs; scanned hand drawing; digital text), the project proved ultimately unsatisfying to me. Try as I might, through the crisp lines and clearly-seen world of my composite images, I could not sufficiently represent the depths and inconsolability of my loss after the death of my first dog, Auggie, who was my transformative companion (1998-2009). The narrative tells a story of a day-in-the-life with my second dog, Baloo, while I am still very sad after the death of my first dog, Auggie, who appears in ghost form.

The failure of the project proved a source of learning, as I put my research skills to work to determine not just what went wrong, but whether I could imagine a kind of method that would allow me to test the effectiveness of my project in addressing its primary concern: how could art best represent loss? Working through these methodological questions, I wrote articles and book chapters, such as “Dog Dreams: A Collage Meditation on Love, Loss, Poodles, Art and Academia,” in Professorial Paws, and gave conference papers such as “A Möbius Paradigm.”

This 10-minute video was created for a 2014 conference on Arts-based Research and Artistic Research in Granada, Spain, and offers a preview of the methodological ideas I developed in the associated paper, “A möbius paradigm for artistic research: Entwining qualitative practices and the uncanny in a further elaboration of a collage method of inquiry,” published in the 2015 conference proceedings. Special thanks to Scott McMaster for video support.

Made Flesh brought me deeper into the compelling interdisciplinary field of ‘animal studies’, which I have found very enlivening. I have also truly appreciated the joy of meticulously drawing my poodles, past and present, and creating a version of my daily life in which they are both present even though in actuality their lives did not overlap. Drawing my late and lamented Auggie as a ghost dozing in my office helped me consider the possibility that his presence continued with me, and helped in my work of mourning. I also imagined him steadying the somewhat skittish Baloo (2009 – ), my beloved second boy.

Made Flesh ends with my two poodles snoozing side-by-side in happy companionship beyond the life-death divide. This was my favourite of all the panels I created for the graphic novella, perhaps because by the time I’d worked my way to this 11th digital collage, my artmaking had boosted me significantly along my way in my work of mourning.