Some may think creepy! Others may think cool! Wherever one’s feelings lie, all can agree that the work of Swedish sculptor and archaeologist Oscar Nilsson is amazing. I must admit that, at first, I was a creeped out by the faces featured on his website. Nilsson’s work focuses on facial reconstruction of people who lived thousands of years ago. His reference materials consist of excavated bones from which 3D-printed skulls are made. Each reconstruction can take upwards of 200 hours to complete. At his core he is an artist, sculpting his subjects by hand. However, it is difficult to limit his talent to purely art. His understanding of anatomy also makes him an accomplished biologist. His understanding of ancient cultures makes him an archeologist. Most notably, his visual expertise allows all of us to see what men and women from ancient cultures looked like. The techniques that Nilsson employs – a combination of scientific research, artistic skill and exact measurements – is used to replicate tissue depth and facial muscle structure. Each of these hyper realistic pieces that Nilsson creates includes bone structure, facial hair and even wrinkles. One of his subjects, a young Greek girl who lived 9,000 years ago, had a dominant jaw which formed a deep scowling expression. Nilsson said that her strikingly somber appearance provides us with insight into what life was like back then. Some facial features have disappeared and smoothed out through evolution and thankfully with better living standards, smiles have evolved.
To learn more about Oscar Nilsson’s current work, you can read this “Art Meets Science” article from Smithsonian.
By Mary Ellen