Lovely Bones: Lee Harper’s Deranged World of Dioramas
Artist Lee Harper’s dioramas offer darklings and history buffs alike an opportunity to discover the macabre world of yesteryear. A self-proclaimed fan of history, Harper has found a way to merge her creativity with her passion for morbid stories by creating picturesque, yet creepy, depictions of historical events.
This whole project started as a joke when the artist decided to create a weird Elf on the Shelf named Bones for the Halloween season, which ended up developing an elaborate following on social media thanks to her husband’s posts. According to Harper’s bio, this eventually morphed into a “year round obsession” for her.
Each of her pieces illustrate a real-life occurrence from the past; the artist herself states that “the stories you don’t hear about in your history class fascinate [her] the most” on her official website. Harper’s aim is to bring light to these dark events through her own vision with the use of skeletons as the key subject.
Harper is inspired by the idea of bones as “the great equalizer” — they form the basic foundation of our bodies and are universally applicable in their representation of ethnicity, sex, or nationality. The artist also recognizes that humans have had a ghoulish fascination with morbidity and death throughout history.
In times of antiquity, people celebrated death and saw it as a reminder to live a fulfilling life. They were encouraged to meditate on the meaning of their existence and “make right with God” before passing on (McKay, Art of Manliness). Harper’s art is reminiscent of the known memento mori art pieces commonly found through the ages. It is very apparent that she was greatly influenced by this and other similar ideas, such as the Danse Macabre and Dia de Los Muertos.
Even in our death-averse modern society, people are still intrigued by mortality. We are forever captivated by the mysteries of the great beyond and the violence that sometimes gets us there prematurely or under tragic circumstances. Harper’s theme of choice displays her deep understanding of this human curiosity. Through her work, she offers us an opportunity to confront our fear of death and to come face to face with the stories of our past.
In her spare time, Harper is a freelance artist based in Oxford, Mississippi. Her work is available for purchase through her website, and she can also be reached for commission-based work as well. To purchase mugs or other items, access her store on Zazzle.com.
All images are from Lee Harper.
Harper, Lee. History Bones, www.historybones.com/.
McKay, Brett, and Kate McKay. “Memento Mori: Art to Help You Meditate on Death and Become a Better Man.” Art of Manliness, www.artofmanliness.com/articles/memento-mori-art/.