2017 ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL | Sarina Brewer: Rogue Taxidermy Sculptor | PBS

2017 ONLINE FILM FESTIVAL | Sarina Brewer: Rogue Taxidermy Sculptor | PBS


(rhythmic percussion music) – I have a lot harder
time getting my materials for my work than probably
a lot of artists do. I don’t have the luxury of being able to, going to a craft store and put some some things in my basket. A lot of my materials are donated to me, but then I don’t really have a choice with what to work with either, so I make use of what comes my way. (gentle jazz music) My name is Sarina Brewer and I do taxidermy related sculptures out of taxidermy related materials and organic animal materials. Rogue taxidermy, it is a form of fine art and it’s a genre that utilizes some of the materials
that taxidermists use, but not necessarily all the materials, just taxidermy related materials. It can be abstract. It can be conceptual. It doesn’t have to be
necessarily a figurative or even look like an
animal, the end product. But it’s really a lot broader than I think a lot of people realize. (uptempo guitar music) Growing up, animals always played a central role in our family,
with lots of family pets. And we had a little animal graveyard outside of our family home. And then there continued the tradition. I don’t consider myself religious, but I really relate to Saint Francis, patron saint of animals. I think of all of my work as a contributor and homage to the animal. So these deer skulls that
I found in the woods, that I hang in the tree, the squirrels come and chew
on those just for the calcium. So it’s a kind of interesting
little circle of life. (whimsical music) I have a collection of
natural history objects that started when I was probably in about second or third grade, that’s grown over the years. So my dining room has kind of turned into like a parlor or a gallery area, where I house all of these
objects and artifacts. Two-headed squirrel’s the
very first thing I ever did. I kept him, kind of the same reason why a bar keeps their very first dollar and staples it to the wall. So, I’ve hung on to
him for all these years because he’s the very first one. All my animals are ethically sourced. This has been a primary directive of mine and all of my animals
have to be not killed for the purpose of art. So it’s all about recycling. Most of the animals I
get are donated to me. This capricorn that I did is one of the very first pieces that I did that was inspired by mythology. And this also was inspired
by my mother’s works. My mother did fantasy art
when I was growing up. I do have like several different and work in several different veins, mostly as a way to try to use as many parts of the animal as possible ’cause that’s really important to me. So I do the hybrid creatures that are kind of either from imagination or ones that are kind of
based loosely on mythology. The gilded mummies, which I’ve been doing since I was at MCAD. And then also esodermy, where you’re just looking
at the under-laying muscle of the animal and
the skeletal structure. Those different mediums
that I’m working with really exemplify how diverse
rogue taxidermy actually is. (whimsical music) I’ve been here in my
home for 19 years now. I have neighbors, two neighbors actually, that are urban chicken ranchers. And one set of those neighbors has given me several birds that I’ve incorporated into sculptures. Hey, guys. – Hi, Sarina.
– Hey, how’s it going? – Good, how are you? – Good, what happened? – A little cold snap. – Little cold snap. Ah, bummer. Well, thanks for saving her for me. – Yeah, no problem. – Sarina’s our neighbor and
we’ve known her seven years. And we’ve probably been
giving her chickens about four years maybe.
– Three or four years. We always lose a couple when it gets really cold if they’re older. Pretty amazing that we
can give her a chicken and then all of sudden it’s a griffin. – Great, good to see you. Talk soon, bye-bye. (gentle orchestral music) Taxidermy does not involve
any blood and guts, ideally. Sometimes you might slip and
puncture through something, but in a perfect world just taking the skin off of the underlying carcass. And now we’re just kind of left with just the skin of the squirrel. And this point is when I would
put it into a tanning bath. It preserves it is what it does and it sets the hair into the
skin so it won’t fall out. So it’s basically, it’s
leather with fur still on it. For this project, when you mount a bird, you actually need to keep the skull. Well, like with modern taxidermy, actually the head is part of a, like a urethane mannequin. But a lot of my techniques I use are kind of just old-school techniques. So I’m using this borax, kind of a salt-like mineral that has anti-microbial properties and it preserves the skin. Yeah, I think in order to
make a convincing creature, you have to have an understanding of the way an animal works, and I’ve always been
interested in anatomy. So I think that really helps a lot and comes into play with my work. These are taxidermy mannequins used for traditional taxidermy. Just for an example,
this is a two-headed rat. What’s underneath him is something that basically looks like this right here. And then the skin will go over it. So that’s how we are gonna be assembling the project that
I’m gonna be putting together. (whimsical music) This part right here
is the satisfying part of the process, seeing it come together, going from something that’s
just in my head, an idea, into a three dimensional object. The most rewarding part
about being an artist is when people understand what
you’re trying to get across, which is really difficult
when you’re using the medium that I’m using. And when you’re a painter or a sculptor and you’re doing something figurative, people look at it and
they kind of understand what you’re doing, but when you’re using an animal to try to get a point
across, it’s a lot trickier. So if people stand there long enough and actually think about
those aspects of it and when they understand
that it’s also done out of reverence for the animal, that’s the most rewarding part for me.

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