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Over the past few years, my work has focused on two of the most anthropomorphized animals in our culture, bears and rabbits. The sculptures of these animals become inverted anatomies showing their interior organ structures embroidered on the body’s surface or through translucent skin. The animals are an unnervingly accurate but uncanny version of the natural animal, curious about the viewer but not overtly welcoming. Fragile and vulnerable, the sculptures examine our attitudes, perceptions, and cultural concepts against the reality of the animal, expressing the wild and the tame, the beautiful and grotesque.

Bears interest me as the ultimate stuffed animals: both the iconic plush toy and the prized taxidermy specimen for hunters. A stuffed bear is the enduring toy of childhood; the fierce predator declawed and defanged to become a child’s best friend and sense of security. While bears and rabbit start as beloved childhood friends, our attitudes towards them quickly diverge. Bears, both revered and feared, are treated with far more respect. Our treatment of rabbits is more complex with attitudes ranging from adoration of their cuteness to contempt. Rabbits are animals that everyone has encountered, starting with Peter Rabbit and Bugs Bunny. They evolve from childhood toy to pampered pet, garden pest, science experiment, dinner and clothing.

Embroidered into the skins of the animals is my interest in evolution, biology and cosmology. I am fascinated by how the universe organizes itself into the same structures from the microscopic to the cosmological. The embroidery and beading on the animal’s skin pulls both of these worlds into opposite directions. The cells of the lungs become visible as the lung and the Milky Way is beaded onto the body making a small universe of the rabbit.

Many people assume my sculptures are created from taxidermy. They are not. I make everything by hand, starting with painted sketches and sculpted maquettes. I embroider samples to figure out the linen and fur colors, thread and stitch directions. I then sculpt the body, make the fabric pattern, and sew the linen and fur together. I hand embroider the organ systems onto the linen. The head and paws are then sculpted and the fur carefully glued on. All the parts assembled and permanently attached. The finished object is important to me; like the stuffed toys that are the first objects we treasure, the sculptures become beings completely contained within themselves.

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