Artist Talk: Melissa Milgrom “Adventures in Taxidermy”
Melissa Milgrom wanted to take this almost taboo field and show its inner workings to validate a lot of the effort and work that goes into this profession. I believed I was familiar with how taxidermy was done and how it worked, but Melissa shot any idea I had out of the water. When she talked about the in-depth process and how incredibly knowledgable a taxidermist must be to in order to be considered good it blew my mind. Taxidermists are a great deal closer to nature than I had originally thought. The sculpting of every muscle, the facial expressions, and the natural movement all have to be spot on or the piece isn’t wanted. I had never looked at taxidermy as an art before. Melissa got up close and personal with some taxidermists and told their stories, while attempting to explain their mindsets and passion for what they do. Taxidermy is an art that is closely related to sculpting as anatomically correct as possible. These people have such an incredible eye for detail and perfection it would put most artists to shame. There are apparently two types of taxidermy: Commercial and Diorama. Commercial includes types like the wild game head mounts, as well as small personal taxidermy. Diorama is the type that you see on display at museums, like most of the exhibits in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Going into the lecture I did not know what I was in for, but I learned a great deal about a field, I was shown, that I knew nothing about. Taxidermists have a special niche within todays art and natural world that they continue to explore and develop.
Art Exhibition: Bahareh Shabrabi Farahani and Mahsan Ghazianzad
Bahareh’s art was displayed on a variety of substrates, including canvas and tapestries. She is from Iran and she address the fact that Iran has a great deal more negative associations then positive here in the U.S. So she set out through her art to bring to the surface how rich of a culture Iran has and how it is represented poorly in media around the word. She used typography and symbols common in Iran as well as bright vibrant colors. Something that I have never seen used before was the addition of tar as a fill in for something like paint. That addition fascinated me and really brought a unique perspective into her work. When tar is used it has a very deep brown appearance as well as it provides a great deal of texture to the art, giving it a very dynamic appearance. She had a combination of abstract and conceptual pieces ranging from the emphasis of different strokes on a wood board, to an entire tapestry that had an elegant and fluid design painted with brights greens and accompanied by the dark brown of the tar.
Mahasn wanted to portray this type of undetermined wanderlust that she struggled with. Her approach was depicting this through the painting of paper airplanes. She used complimentary colors and messy strokes on very large canvas paintings that all had different scenes happening within. Some had every paper airplane in flight but others had none, all of them just piled in a stack on the ground. Mahsan’s use of complimentary colors was very well executed because there was never too much of each, she used just enough to get the contrast throughout the piece but never so much as to overwhelm the viewer. All of the paper airplanes were the same type which provided a kind of blank slate for a viewer to insert their own journeys into the pieces.