Thursday, October 29, 2009

Current Obsession: Melissa Dixson, Taxidermist Extraordinaire

According to Freud, the "uncanny" is "the class of frightening things that lead us back to the known and familiar." Taxidermy is a perfect example of the uncanny -- it appears alive, but is dead; it is familiar, yet completely unfamiliar. We want to touch it, but we are utterly repulsed...

I have always had a sincere admiration for people with very unusual and particular skills that takes years of practice and devotion to perfect: the profession of taxidermist definitely falls under that category. I recently discovered taxidermist Melissa Dixson's shop on Etsy...then her website...then her blog. Now I have an undeniable fascination with her work, albeit a somewhat uncomfortable one.

Interestingly, Dixson views her work as the ultimate form of re-cycling. She uses only furs that have come from licensed trappers and hunters {who help aid in population control and disease-prevention}. She is active in wildlife preservation and very much considers herself an animal lover.


Her work is oddly sweet -- she creates full-size taxidermy, using animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, and deer. She also makes dainty decorative items out of horns and tails.

I think Freud was right -- as an animal lover myself, I find something endearing and attractive about taxidermy, but it is this very affection for animals that also makes me want to instinctively take a step back out of fear. Why is it often the things that make us feel a bit conflicted that are the most intriguing??

::What are your thoughts on taxidermy and animal re-cycling??

9 comments:

Ashe Mischief said...

Growing up in the South, I grew up around taxidermy-- who didn't have animals hanging from their walls that they didn't hunt, kill, and eat themselves?

So on one hand, I appreciate seeing that all of an animal is being used, and it's given life beyond it's life. There can also be something beautifully macabre about them (I know of a woman with a peacock; it sits on her armoir and it's fan of feathers hangs down from it).

That also being said, I couldn't own or display one myself...

Cait* said...

Freud was a smart man and so are you! I completely agree. There is something so luring about taxidermy, yet the juxtaposition is repulsion. I love it too! I just wait for the day when someone walks in my house, and then walks right out! If its misunderstood, its a frightening thing!

Stuart said...

I think you summed it up beautifully. "I have an undeniable fascination with her work, albeit a somewhat uncomfortable one."

Lauren said...

Omg! I just posted about taxidermy- in particular a taxidermied dog with a jeweled headdress... Must be something in the air, haha!

I had the same issue, though. It's fascinating, but it makes me uncomfortable, and I'm struggling to understand why!

Lauren

(IN)DECOROUS TASTE

Chrissy Foreman C said...

I like the idea of taxidermy in terms of preserving but I don't like hte idea of people killing an animal so they can stuff it and put it on a wall. yet I eat meat. I'm an uncanny contradiction aren't i?!

Clorivak said...

I think it's amazing,however it is a tad creepy,depending. I loove animals and as long as they are not killed for the sake of being taxidermied than I am all for it. I go in phases where I just can look at taxidermy forever. Did you ever go to the site crappytaxidermy.com?? Very entertaining.
I did a post on cat taxidermy awhile back too.
anyhoo sorry for my complete and utter blabbage.

{Tara} said...

Ashe -- Same here -- you often see them in various places where I live. I thought they were quite creepy as a little girl, but now I've warmed up to them a bit. I would ABSOLUTELY own a taxidermy peacock-- sounds amazing!

Cait -- You are so kind! I'm not sure if I would want someone to leave my house out of fear, LOL. But saying that, I do have a few odd things around here that people find...slightly creepy.

Stuart-- Thanks!

{Tara} said...

Lauren --That taxidermy dog is SO CRAZY! For some reason lately, I've just become fascinated by taxidermy...though, honestly, I could never stand the thought of doing that to my dog after she passes...that goes beyond *uncanny*

Chrissy -- I totally agree; it's one thing if the taxidermy is done after the fact or if the animal was killed for some other useful reason, but certainly not for the sole purpose of decoration!

Clorivak -- I'm heading over to check out crappytaxidermy.com right now! Sounds hilarious/fascinating...

mothersvea said...

With the risk of sounding like a whining bitch I have to say I'm really repulsed by it and it really makes me sick, seing that coyote sitting in the sun on the last picture makes me wanna cry. I honestly don't see the fun in it...but that's just my opinion, hope you're not offended or anything.