first work is one of his largest, six feet tall and three feet wide. "Bone Calling" is an abstract patterns made from bones over a board covered with fabric that he completed in 1997. The bones are mostly cow jaws, dog skulls, deer skulls and bones and "various other bits and pieces.""I was always interested in horror and dark arts and just weird things in general: oddities, freaks of nature. I had expressed interest to a friend of mine who has a farm that I was interested in getting some animal bones. He collected a bunch for me and gave them to me. I took the skulls that I liked and decorated with them.""I had all these other things left over and I'm like 'What am I going to do with all this stuff?' Then I thought, well I'm going to make something with them. What am I gong to make? I had this big board and I started laying patterns out.""Bone Column" was the the lifelong Louisville resident's first artistic endeavor beyond high school art classes. And previously he'd never heard of anyone making bone art. Since the Internet's rise, however, he has found other artists who work in that medium, although most of them live in the Southwest United States where it's easier to find bones in the desert. Nix believes he's the only person in Louisville working in this medium though.Nix, who works full-time in the (human) funeral industry, chose his pseudonym because it's a word with which he identifies. Dictionary.com it as a noun meaning "nothing." While he's been asked to, Nix hasn't used human bones as a medium--but that's for financial rather than ethical reasons. "It's too expensive," Nix said. "A human skull goes anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Then you add what my fee would be. We're talking two grand for a small sculpture."Nix sold his first piece in 1999 or 2000 at a dark arts fair hosted at Louisville's ear X-tacy. Called "Death Conquers Life," the sculpture depicted a "bird skeleton looming over a robin's egg that'd broken open and there was actually a little yoke inside of it. The way it's positioned, it looks like it'd broken the egg open and it's eating the yoke," Nix aid. Most of his clients find him through word-of-mouth, art shows or his website.Some of Nix's other artwork, which adorn the main rooms of his South Louisville home, include
- "The Nightmare Catcher," made of raccoon and rat bones, feathers, and string made of "finely pulled muscle," fashioned to look like a snake eating its tail with an intricate weaving inside the circle
- a gargoyle made from bones, moss and a tree that had been hit by lightning
- "Tranquility," based on a baby possum skeleton he found while hiking that was so small and delicate that it required tweezers and a magnifying lens to assemble
"There's a lot of fantasy in them," Nix said, although some sculptures he does try to make as anatomically correct as possible. Most of the bones he uses still come from a friend's farm. Nix has never hunted and "has a huge respect for animals," never killing one for use in his art."The way I feel about my art is it's a great respect towards the animal. It in a way immortalizes them," Nix said. "People will enjoy and marvel at it for years and years to come."Does that sentiment include his roommate's cute little dog who followed us around throughout my visit? While hopefully his day as art won't come for a while, Nix's roommate does plan to commission a sculpture once it does.For more information: Check out Nix's idea to scare Halloween trick-or-treaters--twice.