Bless The Beasts And The Road Kill

The Minnesota association of rogue taxidermists unearths an exquisite corpse

Before attending taxidermy school in Pine County, Bibus was an English major at Augsburg, which might explain his fascination with finding the perfect title for MART. There's nothing, though, that would necessarily explain his aberrant fascination with dead animals. His father was a vehement anti-hunter, and when he was growing up, the only dead animals he came into contact with were the ones he'd carry around in his pocket. His mother would often find a plastic baggie of dead worms and slugs in his pants pockets while she was doing the family laundry. His parents tried to discourage him from playing with dead animals, but that didn't stop him. "The thing about taxidermy that's so interesting is that it's the only art form that intrinsically has death in its medium," he says. "And it's trying to represent life. So looking at it is very confusing."

Marbury says that in the art community, taxidermy isn't viewed as an art form. And in the taxidermy world, MART's projects are often overlooked for more craftlike works, like Native American-themed pieces where antlers extend from a feathered headdress. While the work at Creative Electric may be maligned because of its ironic connotations, Marbury, Brewer, and Bibus are serious about their exploration of issues like conservation, consumption, genetic mutation, and fantasy. Their work tells stories of how animals shape our environment and how we shape theirs. And because these beasts mimic life--in mythological, mysterious, and often humorous ways--the works are often as disconcerting as they are beautiful or funny.

"A lot of people will come [to Creative Electric] for the shock value," Bibus says. "We'll see how theatrical it can get. And once that's done, everyone's going to eat squirrel."

Kiss me deadly: Sarina Brewer gets squirrelly with her sculpture
Mike Mosedale
Kiss me deadly: Sarina Brewer gets squirrelly with her sculpture

Bibus came up with the idea for the squirrel feed, which will be held at Creative Electric on Saturday, November 6 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., after attending an elk game feed while at taxidermy school. He and the other students dined on the elk immediately after mounting the antlered beast, which stared back at them with vacant glass eyes. "It's rare in our culture that you see the animal you eat. It's especially weird to look at it while you're eating it!" Bibus says, erupting into hearty laughter.

The artists promise the dinner they prepare won't be the same squirrel Brewer peeled from the street. And it won't be Lil' Halfy either. If the half-tailed super-squirrel can survive his tail being lobbed off, he surely has the power to fend off cars. For now, he remains nature's work of freakish art.

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