On Mondays, we practice critique skills with new artworks in different mediums. Today we’ll look at the work of Christopher Marley, who creates assemblages out of preserved animal specimens.


We’ll discuss this piece, which shows off the curving beauty of sharks. When giving a critique, it’s polite to give both positive and negative feedback. I’ll start and end with positive comments and give any suggestions for improvement in the middle.

My first reaction to this artist’s work was surprise. When I first saw it, I wondered if the animals were real. The answer is yes. This piece is created by arranging preserved shark bodies in an airtight shadowbox frame. It’s a really original idea, and it helps us to appreciate the natural beauty of these creatures.

I think the composition of the animals is perfect. I love the different ways they curve in the space. It really creates the feel of movement and looks very natural. I also think the proportion and placement of the sharks is lovely. There is a nice balance between the sizes, and they each have just the right amount of white space around them.

I also think the artist chose an interesting variation of patterns to use in his piece. The coloring is similar, but the patterns are different enough that they keep our eye moving all around the composition. The striped and spotted sharks are a nice contrast to the more solid-colored animals.

I really can’t think of any suggestions for improving this piece. I imagine some people might be disturbed by the idea of preserved animals as art, but the artist harvests the animals in a sustainable way. All the sharks came from breeders or farms in the U.S. and died of natural or accidental causes, so his work doesn’t hurt the environment.

The presentation of this piece is also very nice. When lit from above, as it naturally would be, the bodies and tails of the sharks create some very interesting shadows on the white background. The clean white box and simple frame help us to focus on the animals alone.

What do you think of this piece? Do you agree with my critique? Do you have questions about the vocabulary? Do you want to suggest a piece for me to critique next week? Leave a comment below!

I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.

To see more of this artist’s work or read the original Art Report article, written by Samantha Coven on December 1, 2017, click the link below: