A Little Spicy Skull Action!

The Spice Skulls of Helen Atlman
Helen Altman looks at the world a little differently than most. Her art plays with common items and standard themes. Her “Artist’s Statement,” something I’ve come to quickly loathe since starting this blog, is as follows:

“Many of my works use commonplace materials and objects. I respond to readymade objects that are often discards or flawed in some obvious way. Alterations in these familiar things elevate them and draw parallels to our own human predicament.

I am also interested in mimics and replicas. It is a happy moment for me when I can create objects that are simultaneously convincing and yet blatantly absurd in their obvious artificiality.”

It is certainly not the worst Artist Statement I’ve seen so far. But it still holds that level of pretension and superficial air of importance I find annoying in such statements. Then again, it does actually do a decent job of explaining her work as a whole.

The art of her’s I’m currently interested in is her set of skulls made out of spices, bamboo, lemongrass, etc. They look deviously simple to make. But their overall impact is much more impressive. I’d love to have one of these hanging in my kitchen next to the spice rack!


All photos and work copyright Helen Altman 2011.

Article inspired by the article Spice Skulls by Helen Altman by Spooky at www.odditycentral.com



  1. Hi, I stumbled on your website from stumbleupon. This isn’t not an article I would normally read, but I loved your spin on it. Thank you for creating an article worth reading!


  2. wow cool! I want!

    which part of the Artist’s Statement is annoying you; the replicas part?


    • The answer to that question is: Yes. Not because it is a direct answer to your question, but to the entire statement. It has this unquantifiable pretentiousness and arrogance to it. It is better than some, even most, of the “Artist Statement’s” I’ve seen, but still….why even have a statement? Is not the art, unto itself, a statement enough? If no, then maybe the art is not powerful enough to make it’s own statement. Then, why are you even making it. That is just IMHO.



      • I totally understand, I really do. for me, it is really hard because I am in the business side of the music industry and my life’s dream is to help people that really are seriously into it for the music instead of only the lifestyle. I don’t want to sound judgmental but to me those are the artists/bands that really deserve it and need it. I say “people” but in the end if it turns out I only find one artist or band that is like this and I manage to help them or do some good for them that would be even enough for me. but, reality is 9 out of 10 bands want to live the “rock star life” because it’s so glamorized (even though it has a high probability of costing you your life which is another issue I think needs to be addressed and when I retire I want to make a nonprofit geared towards that but any way). my point to all of this and how it relates to what I’m feeling from your response is that I think I have a high expectation because I am SO (underline, bold, and italicize SO) passionate about what I do that it’s really hard for people to match my own passion. there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having such a passion or people not matching it, but it will be that much harder to find people who share it on the same level that I have. that being said I really sincerely wish you luck on finding those people and if there’s anything I can do personally to help please let me know


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