Scent Shrines

Scent Shrines

Deanna Ooley

December 2 - 28, 2016

Reception: December 2, 2016; 6 - 9pm

Scent is the least appreciated of the five senses. When polled, most people list it as the sense they would be most willing to relinquish. Although researchers have found that smell is closely related to memory, mood, and spatial awareness, the full extent of its function and importance is not fully understood. This lack of insight may explain its perceived lesser value. Odor’s information transference to the brain is chemical in nature, not by waves such as sound or light, and therefore is not easily transmitted to others over distance. In order to be communicated fully, a smell has to be experienced in person. I believe the challenges of reproduction and presentation, in addition to its perceived expendable qualities, are the reasons scent is not more often incorporated into fine art. With my current artwork series, I hope to rectify this lack of appreciation and awareness.

Our brains rely on other sense indicators when processing odors. Often a word, color, or shape is required as a companion to scent in order to fully identify it. For example, there are expectations through conditioning that a lemon scent will be visually connected to a local color of saturated yellow. The Scent Shrines reinforce this automatic processing by providing an associated color clue related to the plant’s fragrance. Interacting with odors is a very personal experience, often a person has memory associations with a particular smell. The shrine form not only draws the viewer in to experience the scent and color but also elevates the contents to the sacred.

My interest in science and explorations in rapid prototyping have allowed me create the Scent Shrines. By using the laser cutter to incise multiple relief cuts, called a living hinge, regular plywood can be made to bend at acute angles reducing the amount of material needed. This series of work was informed by my research into renewable resources, common and native Texas plants, and scanning electron microscope (SEM) plant imagery. – Deanna Ooley

Deanna Ooley is a Design Lecturer at the University of North Texas where she teaches design, metalsmithing, and advanced color classes. Her latest research is based on sustainable materials, technology, color, and scent perception. Her artwork has been shown in numerous national and international galleries as well as the Metal Museum in Memphis TN. Ooley is the Director of Thoughtful Hands, a start-up non-profit that promotes artists that use eco-friendly materials and sustainable processes. She currently works and resides in Denton, TX.