Jeffrey Allen Price: MODA / Jenna C Makuh

The idea of death and decay is normally a somber subject. People rarely find the beauty in this idea due to the loss of physical presence; but what comes from a object after it departs this Earth? The unseen process of decay can turn into something beautiful, unexpected, and new. Everything that decomposes brings new life forward, thus making the natural process of death a positive one.

The artist Jeffrey Allen Price has dedicated the last 20 years of his life to this subject matter through his work, Absorption Modules. Using a nonconventional art process, he has created the work by laying weighted objects on layered papers. These papers are stained with elements like coffee, tea, and wine. After leaving these pieces in his backyard for some time, they eventually begin to decompose due to natural elements and weather. Over this period of time, the pieces become weathered, compacted, and covered with dirt and leaves. The weighted objects become embossed onto the papers creating a relief of each shape.

Along with Absorption Modules, Price has incorporated what he calls Rustagrams into his installation for this pop-up exhibition at the Moda Upgraded Living in Jamaica, Queens. Emulating the same idea as his AbMods, Price uses a chemical reaction to ‘draw’ oxidized patterns onto paper. These patterns take on their own life and evoke the structure of mandalas creating a spiritual harmony throughout the installation. The lack of control that Price has over his pieces allows each one to be unique, displaying individual processes of decay.

The incorporation of indexical methods similar to imprinting, stamping, or marking allows a peaceful transition from one piece to another, emulating the crossover from decay to new life. Rustagrams are reminiscent of relics, which in medieval Christendom served as a remembrance of the past. This not only allows the theme of death and decay to become a positive one, but to be looked at as a way of embracing and welcoming this natural process. As the proverb goes, “out of death comes new life.”

The themes of decay allow Price to create a distinct viewing experience. The inherent power of these associations gives the work a specific resonance for each viewer. The idea of loss can be challenging due to the absence of the being. Viewing this natural process of decay, however, allows the the viewer, as well as the pieces on display, to work in harmony with one another while investigating this matter. The soul of the old object becomes a part of a new idea thus memorializing the piece.

Jeffrey Allen Price’s work left me with a new sense of life. Not only did my view change, but I also had a chance to have an appreciation for the natural process of decay and the transformation of recycled material. In a time when we look at death as the ultimate end, is it possible for us now to look at it as a new beginning waiting to be discovered?

Jenna C Makuh