Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy

PLA Resin, Steel, Wood, Graphite, Paint, Fabric—2017



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In nature, everything is connected.

I put the statement above to the test in an experiment called Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy. Natural history museum dioramas often include animals that were taken from the wild, killed, & preserved with taxidermy art for educational purposes. Unstuffed—The New Taxidermy is a project where I harvested & studied ‘specimens’ from my own life. The embodiment of these objects was created with the intention of studying personal values.

Object selection

I am probably like many people in that my home holds many things I cherish. I chose from my household items as if I was collecting shells from the shore of a beach. Five items were chosen: An equine’s harness, a wedding present, a Dr. Marten brand men’s shoe, a cement feline doorstop, & my left hand.

Sculpting Materials

3D pen, PLA Resin, Steel, Wood, Graphite, Paint & Painter’s Tape, Fabric

The Creative Process

The chosen objects were individually wrapped in blue painter’s tape. At this stage, I noticed that these items reminded me of mummified Egyptian relics, partially because of the bright blue color but also because of the wrapping method. Next, I used a 3D pen to trace intricate designs on the taped surfaces.  I used my imagination to invent where & how these lines connected to make an intricate web around each solid form. This drawing process is entirely manual, and meditative. The result is unique, like a fingerprint, intentionally not for reproduction.

The pen works with the push of a button. Resin from a spool is fed through the pen to a hot extruder.  The liquefied resin hardens quickly on the tape surface after leaving the pen’s tip. Once cool, the drawn shapes are easily un-molded from the taped surface. I created each object in pieces. When I had all the sections completed I fused them together with the pen to build the complete, hollow form.

Lastly, each 3D shape was paired with a handmade metal and/or wood design component as an indicator to point to a related use. A video record of this project occurred with the help of some furry friends. No animals were harmed or used as objects in the making of this work!

Artifacts produced

Five sculptural compositions were created. The items in the slide show above are titled: Horsepower, Tea, Dr. Marten, Schrodinger’s Cat, & Paperless.

Final Observations

About the Unstuffed project title…

When I observe 19th century taxidermic animals, I long to pull them apart. I wonder where the life force that once inhabited these now inanimate bodies covered in feathers, fur, & skin has gone.  The 2nd law of thermodynamics in physics assures me that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change shape. Where does this life force go?