The following may be considered ‘disturbing,’ but that is actually part of the reason Brooklyn-native Kate Clark was inspired to create these works.
As National Geographic shares, in a bright, dusty loft near the Navy Yard in Brooklyn, there is a studio housing a variety of zebras, wolves, cougars, bears, greater kudu, gemsboks, baboons, and springbok. But don’t get too excited, all of these animals are deceased and boast something never seen in nature: a human face.
As Clark shared with the renowned publication, her efforts are to confront the viewer with mankind’s innate connection with the animal kingdom by evoking empathy, curiosity, and sometimes, discomfort.
The artist does things differently than a traditional taxidermist. While some perceive the craft to be a form of art that preserves a once-aware and alive animal, Kale sees it as an opportunity to confront viewers’ emotions and inspire new opinions.
She never takes fresh hides, instead recycles old ones that are considered ‘imperfect’ for the purposes of typical trophy mounts. Perhaps they were left too long in the freezer or bugs ate holes in the skin – she doesn’t mind. She diligently stitches their bits together with care and then removes the foam animal head, replacing it with one made of clay.
There’s just one thing: the sculpted heads have human features and are covered in the animal’s own facial skin.
“In the Western World, humans are so separated that we have no reason to connect with [wild] animals anymore,” Kate says. “We have become so other.”
In fact, most people don’t even recognize that she often changes the sex of the animals. For example, some of her sculptures bear female faces with antlers attached – an appendage usually sported only by male animals. “Something as straightforward as that doesn’t even register because our understanding of the natural world isn’t very good anymore,” she says.
Diluted understanding of man’s own interconnection with nature is one of the main reasons the state of Earth is in such distress. Humans, in quest to satiate their own greedy desires, think first of what will please them, and second of how their actions will translate and affect others.
Perhaps by reviewing these fascinating – yet disturbing – sculptures, people will be inspired to form their own conclusions on controversial topics, such as the ethics of animal consumption and mistreatment.
Clark is not a traditional taxidermist, but the inspired artist has spent a lot of time becoming acquainted with the practice. The work is far from glamorous at times, but her intention is for “the viewer to see clearly that it’s transformed from the animal into the human.”
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