Still Life Adventures in Taxidermy
Taxidermy is everywhere these days--from hip restaurants to posh clothing stores. Yet few realize that behind these "stuffed" animals is a world of intrepid hunterexplorers, eccentric naturalists, and museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life.
Into this subculture of intensely passionate animal lovers ventures journalist Melissa Milgrom, whose trek stretches from the family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio where an English sculptor preserves the animals for Damien Hirst's most disturbing artwork. Milgrom tags along with a Canadian bear trapper and three-time World Taxidermy Champion as he re-creates an extinct Irish elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference. She even picks up a scalpel and stuffs her own squirrel. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, Milgrom takes us deep into the world of taxidermy and reveals its uncanny appeal.
"An "absorbing blend of bright-eyed reportage and hands-on participation...a genuine appreciation for a true art form, an enthusiasm the author imparts with style in this substantial study." --"Publishers Weekly "(starred review)