NYC artist to showcase ‘Blood Work’ in Ferndale

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published September 26, 2012

 New York-based artist Jordan Eagles creates unique pieces using cattle blood that he obtains from slaughterhouses. His new exhibition, “Blood Work,” will be on display at The Butcher’s Daughter in Ferndale through Oct. 3.

New York-based artist Jordan Eagles creates unique pieces using cattle blood that he obtains from slaughterhouses. His new exhibition, “Blood Work,” will be on display at The Butcher’s Daughter in Ferndale through Oct. 3.

Photo by Andrew Potter

FERNDALE — Monica Bowman felt a strong connection with Jordan Eagles the very first time they met.


Bowman, the owner and director of The Butcher’s Daughter art gallery in downtown Ferndale, was immediately drawn to Eagles’ distinctive artwork, which utilizes blood in visually striking ways. She could tell that they saw eye to eye not only on art, but also on how they perceive the world.


“As the daughter of a butcher, my experience with blood is probably different than a lot of other people’s,” she said. “Jordan’s work seemed like a perfectly natural fit for my gallery, because I think he understands where I’m coming from. We have a lot in common, so we really hit it off when we met.”


For over a decade, Eagles has garnered public and critical attention for his signature use of blood. Through his own experimental, self-invented process, the New York City-based artist applies cattle blood — which he obtains from slaughterhouses — to Plexiglas and permanently preserves the organic material while suspending the fluid forms.


“I started working with blood back in 1998 when I was in college,” Eagles said. “I was exploring connections between the body, the spirit and nature, and there was an immediate charge — an intensity — that this material gave me that was unlike anything else I had ever felt before. There was an emotional response that I was looking for, and it just wasn’t happening by using red paint.”


Bowman stressed, however, that Eagles’ work is nowhere near as morbid or disturbing as it might seem on paper. “The material itself is visually transcendent,” she said. “You can’t even really tell that his works are made from blood.”


For his new exhibition at The Butcher’s Daughter, “Blood Work,” Eagles is presenting a series of about a dozen pieces based on the various elemental qualities of blood. It includes some minimal works employing blood-soaked gauze stretched over black-and-white acrylic boxes, blood and copper mixtures, and overhead projectors for a site-specific, interactive installation.


The pieces in “Blood Work” are designed to maintain blood’s natural colors, textures and luminosity in order to expose its finite details. In the presence of light, it gives off iridescent reds, crimsons, oranges, browns and blacks that cast shadows as they project onto walls. The exhibition will be on display through Oct. 3.


As Eagles explained, by using blood as his primary material, his work is able to expose some startling dichotomies: life vs. death, creation vs. extinction and serenity vs. violence. But perhaps the key element that ties it all together is the concept of rebirth.


“It’s a question of, ‘If you’re preserving part of the body, can you also preserve part of the soul as well?’” he said. “I feel like this is a very cohesive collection of work with a really spiritual tone. Some of the pieces have a sense of origin about them, like the beginning of time; others almost look like a womb inside of a woman’s body.”


The artist’s theme and message were certainly not lost on Bowman. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” she said. “Jordan is looking at big spiritual questions, ethical questions, questions of mortality, and he’s doing it by using blood in ways that are really remarkable. This exhibition is all about getting people to come out and see it and open up their minds to something new.”


Eagles’ works have been featured in numerous museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, the Peabody-Essex Museum, the Everson Museum and many more. Most recently, his pieces have been showcased at the Krause Gallery in New York, the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago and the University of Michigan Museum of Art as part of its “In Focus” series.


Now Eagles is eager to bring his unique vision to art aficionados all over metro Detroit via The Butcher’s Daughter. Though he will only be in town for another week, he hopes that “Blood Work” will have a lasting impact on all those who come out to see it in person.


“I’m really excited to be here,” he said. “I’m hoping that this exhibition communicates something really beautiful and spiritual for people. Blood gives off a certain energy when you see it up close, and it’s not an energy that you can really experience through a photo or video.”


The Butcher’s Daughter is located in downtown Ferndale at 22747 Woodward Ave., at the southwest corner of Nine Mile and Woodward. For more information on Jordan Eagles’ “Blood Work,” call (248) 808-6536 or visit