Lucy Jenkins "Road Kill Jewelry"

REPOSTED from crafthaus blog, September 26, 2014

Lately, everywhere I look artists seem to have taken on taxidermy. This being artists we are talking about you can be sure that the pieces are not your grandfather's stuffed beasts anymore, but work that ranges from the sublime to the, ahem..., slightly weird. There, I said it.

My acquaintances and friends in the craft world who typically work in classic craft media are currently taking classes in dissecting mice - and they seem to enjoy it greatly. Let me give you some examples of the truly interesting work I've come across recently without even looking too hard.

Now I know that taxidermy is certainly nothing new, there have always been makers who have worked with fur and animal skin, it just seems that these days there's much more of this type of work floating about and it now crosses over into other areas of fine art and craft, thereby mixing things up quite a bit. In a good way.

The two images above are works by Lucy Jenkins from England. Inspired by the arguments about the provenance of fur, Lucy collected roadkill off the streets, taxidermied the fur and lined her chunky metal bracelets with it. Each bracelet has the Latin name of the animal engraved on it, as well as the name of the road it was found on. Her packaging features a plaque which declares "No animals were killed for the purpose of this piece." PeTA would approve.

As I am looking at these images, I can't help but what wonder why this work so fascinates me. My morbid sense of humor? A love of the slightly off-kilter? Curiosity? Admiration for technical virtuosity and unusual material combinations? Probably all of the above and more. If anyone wants to delve into the psychology of iit all, be my guest.

Artist-slash-upholsterer Miss Pokeno incorporated taxidermy animals right into her furniture.

Michel Haillard's animal skins. http://www.michel-haillard.com/

Chicago artist Jessica Joslin reassembles skeletons of various creatures, embellishing them with found and antique fabrics and materials to create mechanical creatures that look almost real.

German artist Thomas Gruenfeld creates what he calls 'misfits' - hybrid taxidermied animals.

Mike Libby / Insectlab

One of my personal favorites, Mr. Finch (2 images above) expertly recreates the distinct look of taxidermy through sewing and stitching fabrics.

Polly Morgan http://pollymorgan.co.uk/

Embroidery meets Taxidermy and Old Master Painting, David R. Harper

Maurizio Cattelan 

Enrique Gomez De Molina

Ellen Jewett

If you have additional, interesting taxidermy work to share, feel free to post it into the comments. Thank you.

Sources:

http://www.beadinggem.com/2011/01/real-road-kill-bangles-by-lucy-je...

http://www.misspokeno.com/

http://www.lostateminor.com/2010/04/12/jessica-joslin/

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Comment by Brigitte Martin on October 6, 2014 at 8:35am

There's an interesting exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art right now (September 27, 2014 - January 18, 2015):

"Late Harvest juxtaposes contemporary art made with taxidermy with historically significant wildlife paintings, resulting in intriguing parallels and startling aesthetic contrasts. The exhibition seeks to simultaneously confirm—through historically-significant wildlife paintings—and subvert—through contemporary art and photography—viewers’ preconceptions of the place of animals in culture."

More info on exhibition and artists: http://www.nevadaart.org/exhibitions/detail?eid=280

Comment by Rebecca Rose on September 26, 2014 at 5:27pm

Such a great taxidermy selection represented here! 

I've been lucky enough to have seen Cattelan's horses at Untitled during Art Basel in 2013, and Gruenfeld's misfits at Nada during Art Basel Miami Beach I think back in 2012. Jessica Joslin's work is always a stunning mix of metalsmithing and taxidermy, and Jessica is mindful of making replica skulls when creating works based on certain species. 

Earlier this year, in May when I was out in LA for the Mark Ryden show at Kohn Gallery, I swung down to Hollywood and checked out the biannual taxidermy show at La Luz De Jesus. It used to be called the Rogue Taxidermy show, be sure to check out the work of:

Peter Gronquist- http://www.petergronquist.com/

Liz McGrath- http://www.elizabethmcgrath.com/

Katie Innamorato- http://www.afterlifeanatomy.com/

Lisa Black- http://www.lisablackcreations.com/

Comment by Gail Lannum on September 26, 2014 at 11:48am

Not my version of art...especially if someone is killing these animals to make their "art".  The horses are especially disturbing.  If the one hanging from the ceiling is alive that is animal abuse.  If it's dead that's just disgusting.  And I don't buy the excuse that "art is meant to evoke a response".  Would it be art if you stuffed your dead aunt in the back of a chair?

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