Collection Artwork
Michael Joo (born Ithaca, NY, 1966)
Untitled (DRWN)
cast graphite-embedded urethane
dimensions variable
right crane leg: 28 1/4 x 4 1/2 x 11 3/4 in.
left crane leg: 28 x 4 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.
installed size (approximate): 108 x 10 1/4 x 11 1/2 in.
Gift of Ruth and William S. Ehrlich

Installation views

Object Label

The path of faint lines drawn directly on the wall terminates with a pair of disembodied African crane legs. Using the legs themselves—made of graphite and urethane—a human hand drew these delicate lines. The artist has said, “It’s the mark of the hand that placed them there and is simultaneously eroding them away.” This refers to both a literal duality: the more the artwork is shown, the more it will wear away and the more fragile it becomes; but also a figurative duality: graphite—a carbon-based compound—reminds us that carbon is the basis of all life. Yet increased carbon emissions and human expansion and other interventions damage the natural environment and put many species, including the African crane, at risk of extinction.

A poignant reminder of the ephemerality of life, the legs also suggest fossilization. Is extinction and fossilization the crane’s inevitable end, making space for a new beginning, or should we look to science to save it? Is the mixing of nature and science too closely dangerous? The crane legs look feeble, but, able to draw along the wall, are they stronger than we realize?

From the exhibition: Other Side:
Art, Object, Self (August 12, 2017 – January 3, 2018)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Learn more

Other Side:
Art, Object, Self
Michael Joo on Science, Art & the Symbolism of Crane Legs
Pattern by Abby Fuess ’18
Inspired by the exhibition Other Side: Art, Object, Self
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.