February : Kate Clark’s Animal Sculptures with Human Faces

Untitled (Black Bear) by Kate Clark


The Phlox has taken a recent disgusted fascination with Rogue Taxidermy, the new “hipster” (The Snottor raises his eye-scales at such words) take on taxidermy as a form of art. The Phlox, as one of the more sappy animal-lover-tree-hugger types The Snottor has ever had the misfortune to meet, does not find that any form of taxidermy sits well with her, but, as an equally-sappy lover of art, she cannot help but be interested. 

Lifting The Snottor’s ancient and appropriately stone-heavy bulk up in her measly, understandably struggling flower-arms, she has forced him to peruse the web for such specimens. While the pair of them felt mutually ambivalent about most of the findings, there was the work of one artist in particular that left the Phlox so dazzled that she has coerced The Snottor (with perhaps the morally ambiguous use of ice-cream sandwiches) to discuss it in one of his esteemed and highly looked-forward-to posts. 

My Heart Beats Like Thunder by Kate Clark

About this Artist:

In general, Rogue Taxidermy involves the mixture of pieces from various animals obtained in a humane way with other materials, creating such objects as ox-hoof zip-up high heels, baby goats with lustrous mermaid tails, or a cyborg steampunk coyote. These are personally not much to The Snottor’s taste (or The Phlox’s stomach), and although objectively interesting, do not leave him with a lasting artistic impression.

The work of Kate Clark, however, always stands out. Using animals hides, she recreates a life-like wild animal, but with one key difference; she gives it a human face. She creates masks with rubber eyes that look perfectly human yet blend in with the colors and textures of the animal, and which are attached with silver pins to emphasize the seams and thus the reconstruction of the creature.

Clark’s artist statement, which can be found in full here https://www.kateclark.com/artist-statement/ (along with all her art), emphasizes the connection between the civilized and culturally advanced (as she puts it) human with its primal instincts and the connections to bodies that in many cases have not greatly evolved. What struck The Snottor in particular about her work, is the way it treats the relationship between human and animal; in a way, she gives “humanity” to wild animals, but that is not really the right word, The Snottor thinks, because it clearly, as Clark’s art shows, is a quality that belongs to more than human beings.

Matriarch by Kate Clark

The point is that Clark, in her art, silently breaks down the boundaries between human and animal, and in that way both raises animals to the humanity of human beings, and also raises humans to the beauty and silent knowledge of animals. 

There is something about her work that always captivates, that speaks to some truth that The Snottor thinks was in most of us all along.

What do you think about this? Do you think taxidermy is a perfectly viable form of art, or disgustingly inhumane? Do you have a favorite contemporary artist? Comment below and tell us!