- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Picking a dead opossum for a canvas comes naturally to artist Devon Devaughn.

Devaughn recently created a photo series depicting roadkill in various stages of decomposition, covered in glitter and surrounded by Lisa Frank-esque levels of neon, the Missourian (https://bit.ly/2h5maxi ) reported.

“Basically what I’m trying to do with it is memorialize these animals,” Devaughn said. “There’s so many bodies on the side of the road, and I kind of wanted to call attention to it and also honor them like you would a person in my own special way.”

Devaughn, a senior fine arts major at the University of Missouri, originally worked on similar pieces when she was a sophomore. She decided to return to it her senior year as a project for her advanced photo class.

Travis Shaffer, an assistant teaching professor, taught the class and was impressed with the project.

“I think the work shows a lot of initiative and, let’s say, kinds of risk,” he said. “I think it shows commitment and dedication. A level of seriousness despite all of the glitter and magenta.”

Devaughn said she wasn’t always in favor of calling the pieces a photo project. “I think I’d rather have it be more of a performance or sculptural thing,” she said.

The work caused a smattering of confusion when people first began to notice it but didn’t know who was doing it. Devaughn was amused by a story that ran in the Columbia Daily Tribune, especially by the comments section. One commentator dubbed her “Ranksy,” a combination of “rank” and the name of famous street artist “Banksy.”

“I thought it was hilarious that people thought I was younger than I am,” she said. The article quoted people who described Devaughn as possibly a high school student.

Devaughn worked in broad daylight, and she said that only two people approached her when she was working. One woman thought the animal Devaughn was painting was her cat, and the other was an intrigued man in the parking lot of a Hy-Vee.

“There was a dead duck, and I was decorating it, and this guy was just watching me. I didn’t know at the time,” she said. “He eventually saw me dumping glitter on it, and he was like: ‘Oh, now I’m interested. What are you doing?’”

She said she was mildly concerned about being caught. “Since I was a kid, I have always followed the rules to a T.”

As of now, though, Devaughn said she is stepping away from the project for a while.

“It’s hard to completely resolve an entire work in one semester, but for this semester I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.”


Information from: Columbia Missourian, https://www.columbiamissourian.com

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