Some consider it a freak show. Others call it an offensive abomination of nature. But the man who organized a display of fanciful animals at Central College in Pella says it’s just art. Robert Marbury is director of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists.
He says the exhibit includes oddities like a two-headed chick, a mermaid and a vampire squirrel in order to, in his words, give people a sense of awe and possibility at what nature has to offer. Marbury says “We are often creating animals that are mythological or animals that are unknown or undiscovered. When you look at them, the sort of hope for a lot of us is that, this sense of curiosity and wonder is going to fill you and you’ll believe that really there is more to offer in the world than what we see day-to-day like our dogs and our cats.”
The collection of creatures includes a “goth griffin” that has the body of a cat and the head of a crow. Marbury says the 20-member group includes a woman taxidermist who specializes in mythological beasts. Her Capricorn has the front of a goat, the tail of a fish and wings, giving the illusion it’s all one real animal. She’s also made a winged kitten, two-headed rats and something called a sea devil.
Marbury calls himself a “vegan taxidermist,” saying his creatures are made entirely from recycled manufactured items, like old stuffed animals. Others in the group use “found objects” like roadkill or donated dead animals but they never kill an animal for their creations. He says another member of the group is more into making frightening creatures like killer deer and demonic dogs.
One of his pieces subverts the concept of the traditional food chain, depicting a beaver chewing on a human finger. Marbury says “It’s really challenging and it’s horrific but the issue is not to just simply offend. What we’re really trying to do is really foster a conversation about what humans’ role really is in the natural world.” The display is at Central College’s Mills Gallery through December 3rd. Or surf to “www.roguetaxidermy.com”.