Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MELISSA MILGROM author of STILL LIFE: Adventures in Taxidermy

On March 24, Tyler Glass is very excited to host Melissa Milgrom, author of the just-released book Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy. We're always interested to hear artists speak about where their ideas come from, and creative process - how to start, how to keep going, and sometimes hardest of all - how to finish. We're excited to hear her talk about her experience researching and writing Still Life.

"WHY TAXIDERMY?" (from www.melissamilgrom.com)
It's easy to dismiss taxidermy as a kitschy or morbid sideline, the realm of trophy fish and jackalopes or a throwback to the dusty diorama. Yet it is a world full of intrepid hunter-explorers, eccentric naturalists, and gifted museum artisans, all devoted to the paradoxical pursuit of creating the illusion of life.

Into this subculture of insanely passionate animal lovers ventures journalist Melissa Milgrom, whose journey stretches from the anachronistic family workshop of the last chief taxidermist for the American Museum of Natural History to the studio where an English sculptor preserves the animals for Damien Hirst's most disturbing artworks. She wanders through Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities to watch dealers vie for preserved Victorian oddities, and visits the Smithsonian's offsite lab, where taxidermists transform zoo skins into vivacious beasts. She tags along with a Canadian bear hunter—the three-time World Taxidermy Champion—as he recreates an extinct Irish Elk using DNA studies and Paleolithic cave art for reference; she even ultimately picks up a scalpel herself. Transformed from a curious onlooker to an empathetic participant, Milgrom comes to understand not only what drives the very best taxidermists in their desire for perfection, but why people in our era of ecological awareness and high technology still find taxidermy so alluring. Straddling science and art, high culture and kitsch—like taxidermy itself—STILL LIFE celebrates the beauty in the uncanny.


Melissa Milgrom has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure, and Metropolis, among other publications. She has also produced radio segments for Public Radio International's Studio 360. She holds a master's degree in American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and lives in New York City.

open to the public
1pm Wednesday March 24
Tyler School of Art Rm B089

funded by the Temple University Student Activities Fee

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