BACKGROUND

The Art of Ancestral Casting has been practiced since the age of the pharaohs as a means to touch the future with the majesty of the past. In Egypt not only were the features cast to duplicate facial characteristics, the whole body was reproduced to create the sarcophagus that was then used as the means to take the soul of the mummified remains into the afterlife.

The first examples of the plaster departure from the skeletal form are found in Jericho. Archaeologists estimate these plaster and jewel encrusted skulls to be 7000 years old. There is no way to tell if these portraits are of great leaders or famous criminals, as the face casting has been used for both through out history.

In a twist on the life casting process, the Romans would use castings to create full sized bronzed statuary. Slaves were told to stand in containers especially made and to strike a pose with a tube for breathing. Plaster would be poured around them. Once the mold was set, molten bronze poured in would replace the flesh and bone in a grisly “lost wax” casting. The slave became a “victim of art”.

Another example of Life Casting's underbelly begins during the French Revolution. As the guillotine was making head way through the aristocracy, a young woman was making castings of the beheaded. Graphically gruesome, these were the inspiration for Madam Toussaud's Wax Museum.

Unable to rise above the macabre, face castings were used during the nineteenth century to the delight of small girls. Baby dolls made their appearance from castings of still born. These tiny faces were used creating sumptuously attired dolls for child's play.

The first documented evidence of life casting available to the general public is recorded by Cennino d'Andrea Cennini, in the “Craftsman's Handbook”, published in 1390. The description given is strikingly similar to the casting process still used today.

In the United States, presidential face castings have been made from George Washington forward. The first actual Life Castings we have examples of are James Madison and Senator Henry Clay. The finished works are a part of the Smithsonian collection.

The modern techniques available to life casting artists eliminate all of the discomfort once found in this art form. Plaster gauze bandages shorten the process to a brief 10 minutes, start to finish. The resulting casting captures all of the facial detail, so much so that when the casting is viewed with proper lighting, it creates a holographic image, appearing to follow your movements as you pass in front of it.

Ann Lyneah Curtis uses this casting procedure to create her face, body and hand castings. Her finished work captures detail from eyelash to navel, from a Mona Lisa smile to a full toothy grin. She places her work into the hands of history with a new twist on the oldest form of portraiture.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Ann Lyneah Curtis
1029 KC 434
Harper, Texas 78631
830 864 5327

ann_lyneah@yahoo.com