I am a self-taught sculptor and artist. My background includes a degree in digital media and theater arts, followed by professional experience in costume construction, Halloween merchandise prototyping, themed environment sculpture for restaurant and casino interiors, monument and park sculpture, boutique ephemeral gift-crafts development, and crafts instruction. You can browse through some of these things on my "other work" page.
I have always worked with paper and textiles, as well as finding ways to incorporate salvaged materials. After finding a particularly high quality crepe paper, I experimented extensively with it, creating gift crafts for retail sales at local shops. The paper worked very well for creating flat organic shapes such as flower petals and feathers. Because I have always been drawn towards making creatures, I couldn't resist making birds with it. I developed my own construction techniques for sculpting birds using this paper and basic craft materials. Starting with an assortment of stylized birds, I now focus on exact species replication.
Creating Vegan Taxidermy allows me to simultaneously study details of the natural world and people's relationship with both nature and human-made objects. I find taxidermy fascinating because it represents a strange commoditization of nature, revealing conflicts between preservation and ownership, such as the nineteenth-century occurrence of killing the last few living specimens of (now extinct) birds for wealthy collectors. Thankfully, most birds are now federally or internationally protected from being bought, sold or collected in part or whole.
Rather than art for Art's sake, I view Vegan Taxidermy as connecting people to the natural world, contrasting against "cheap & now" consumer culture and the insular, disconnected world of Art. Concerns about habitat conservation, environmental issues, and the effects of consumer culture motivate me to distance my personal work, as well as many aspects of my life, away from mass production of disposable merchandise. Instead, I focus on individually sculpting unique pieces of art that emphasize highly skilled craftsmanship and whose delicate quality and variety reflect the natural world they honor.
It is my choice to try to create final pieces that have a universal aesthetic appeal, with a classic timeless look. While my chosen subject, taxidermy (real or fake), is very popular among contemporary artists, I aim to create work that will continue to have visual value, beyond trends or fads that will have a heavily dated look in the future. I try to create work that fits in a range of settings, from Regency to minimalist Modern.
The message my work carries is not easily readable, unlike many contemporary art styles which visually read like a political cartoon. What I offer is more akin to the new food movement that focuses on local, sustainable, and artisan quality; a carrot will still have all of the characteristics of a carrot, but the entire system that brings that carrot from being a seed to being consumed, is itself a quiet political revolution.
I have chosen to make work that does not lend itself well to mass production. It is a very slow process, taking me an average of about a week per bird. This makes it difficult to make a living from it, but it also hopefully means that I am not creating work that will end up in landfill within a few years.
I donate a percentage of my sales to local organizations supporting wildlife education, rescue and preservation.
Gardenista February 2013
DesignSponge September 2012
PaperLab August 2012
AllThingsPaper June 2012
San Francisco Chronicle January 2012
Oprah Magazine October 2011
Bay Nature Online Magazine, June 2011
20 Minutes Spanish Web Newspaper, April 2011
Boing Boing March 2011