Philadelphia artist giving life to old bones through skull art

NORTHERN LIBERTIES (WPVI) -- Halloween is just around the corner and if you're looking for skulls and bones, you might want to check out a local artist who's giving new life to old bones.

Artist Sue Moerder uses a unique medium for her work at her private studio in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood.

"I do skull assemblage art that's all made with animal skulls and found objects," said Moerder. "And bone, like vertebra and pelvic bones."

And she makes no bones about her unique last name, Moerder, which is pronounced murder.

"That's how we always pronounced it," she says.

Moerder got into using animal bones in her art a few years ago.

She says working with this medium started as more of a hobby, but the pieces ended up becoming more sculptural. She claims a lot of her inspiration comes just from the skulls.

"There's so many amazing chambers and compartments," said Moerder. "It's just a beautiful design."

She says she thinks about "the idea that it holds like our whole essence and protects it."

She creates both freestanding and wall-mounted sculptures using natural animal bone.

"I like to turn the skulls upside down and backwards and take pieces of them and make body parts. It's all kind of Frankensteined together," said Moerder.

Moerder says she likes working mostly with deer and coyote, but she uses many other animals in her art as well. She has included muskrats, beaver, mink, turtle and ostrich in different pieces.

"I'm repurposing something that's already beautiful and paying it respect by giving it another chance to be admired," she said.

She incorporates found objects too, like mirrors, clocks, chains and keys.

"Since I've been doing this art, everything's kind of turned into a treasure hunt," said Moerder.

She says thrift shops are a great place to find items and gets inspired when she finds "some weird napkin ring" or "piece of metal on the street."

Moerder says she likes to make pieces that are useful, like chandeliers and wall sconces.

"I love working with light. I'm always trying to do new stuff," she said.

She says her art attracts a wide variety of people with mixed reactions, from "shock and horror" to "this is awesome."

"They're a lot of fun," said Moerder.

For more information:
Sue Moerder Skull Art
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