Colleen RJC Bratton

Edgeless Burial

Our bodies are akin to composting flowers, dissolving seaweed, rotting logs, and melting snow–all decay and return to the earth.

Colleen RJC Bratton. Memento Mori (Day 3), 2022. Ground flower petals, magnolia seeds, Grandmother’s apricot seed husks, marigold seeds and soil conditioner. 67 x 26 inches
  • February 1 - 29, 2024
  • Opening: Thursday, February 1, 6:00 — 8:00pm

Paying homage to Ana Mendieta’s Siluetas, in which she imprinted or traced her own body on various terrains, Colleen RJC Bratton’s ephemeral drawings find their roots in the landscapes that birthed them: the Puget Sound, the snowy Cascades, the burn scar near Bolt Creek, and a small farmstead. The geographic origin of each composition serves as a reminder of impermanence, offering subtle allusions to climate change—rising sea levels, diminishing snowpacks, rampant wildfires, and soil erosion.

In contrast to more extreme forces of weathering that dissipate Bratton’s artworks outdoors, the gallery space provides a controlled environment to witness evidence of this process. Multimedia timelapses and a biomorphic installation allow us to immerse ourselves in transience.

Edgeless Burial also suggests a metaphorical alternative to the environmentally taxing practices of cremation and embalming. In 2019, Washington became the first state to legalize human composting, where human remains become fertile soil. In this way, death is not an end but a transformation. Our physical selves rejoin the earth, blossom with the flowers, and reach new heights as the crowns of trees.

Bratton says, “When I gave birth, I suddenly lost my fear of death. I could see my own matter had become someone else, independent of my body. My skin, a seemingly rigid confinement, had revealed itself instead to be a permeable substance. Outside of faint daily shedding, the material that stayed with me postpartum will eventually disperse, its edges fading after I die. Like the slow ache of mourning, the cells within will dull and seep into the roots of something else.”

About the Artist

Colleen RJC Bratton is a sculptor and installation artist based in Seattle who makes work focused on formal and spiritual parallels between the human body and the natural world. Bratton received a BA in Visual Arts and Philosophy from Seattle University and has had solo shows at SPAC Gallery, Kinsey Gallery, Sunspot, Two Shelves, and SOIL. Notable group exhibitions include Soft Power at Tacoma Art Museum, Soft Touch at Museum of Museums, Tangents at Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, Graphite at studio e gallery, A Stranger Comes to Town at Spring/Break Art Show (NY), and By and By: Hope for the Future at Durden & Ray (CA). In 2019, Bratton was a Stumptown Artist Fellowship recipient. Their work has been featured in Art Maze Magazine, The Stranger, City Arts, and Booooooom and, since 2017, they have been a member of artist-run gallery SOIL.