Taxidermy: Unsettling Or Art?


Juliet Roman

One of Juliet Roman’s taxidermied birds

Madi Feenstra, Staff Writer

Glassy eyes. Limbs positioned carefully and strategically. Sometimes they are even in custom-fit clothing. Some see this practice–taxidermy–as disturbing, but others see it as an art that has been practiced for over four centuries.

By the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition, taxidermy is the art of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of animals and especially vertebrates. Most people know what taxidermy is, but it’s not a topic that crosses the average person’s mind very often.

Taxidermy can be dated back as far as the Egyptian era. Ancient Egyptians were famous for preserving remains and mummifying various creatures–humans and animals alike. However, the most famous era for taxidermy was the Victorian era. Many British people had taxidermied birds under glass domes in their parlors.

Although this art seems like something of the past, it’s still practiced across the United States. Some taxidermists even publicly post their work to attract business or just for display, like and multiple social media accounts on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. It’s even a central part of a mainstream movie, “Hope Floats”.

Taxidermy, in general, is usually seen in two different ways; some don’t agree with the practice while others admire it.

“As an art in general … I think it’s really pretty,” said sophomore Juliet Roman of Vista del Lago, who has been practicing taxidermy since the eighth grade. “It was something I picked up myself … I think it’s a pretty way to display things that have once been dead. A lot of times it’s the art of bringing back to life something that has already been dead.”

Roman has taxidermied a number of animals including birds, rabbits and various other rodents.

“I actually really like taxidermy. I think it’s really pretty,” said Vista junior, Aya El Sabban, who had her deceased pet bird taxidermied by Juliet back in late November. “[When Juliet taxidermied my bird] my mom said, ‘Why are you doing that?’ She thought it was really gross and creepy.”

Others are not as comfortable with the artform.

“Art has several different definitions for me,” said junior Annie Liu, president of Vista’s art club. “I would consider taxidermy a form of art, but it’s not a visual art to me. Thinking about it makes me feel a bit uneasy, though. I probably wouldn’t like it,” says Liu. “But we all have good and bad experiences. With every experience, you have another story to tell.”

Although some would view taxidermy negatively, many see it as a peaceful way of preserving the death of an animal and another way to express in the form of art.