sarina brewer

Sarina Brewer is an internationally acclaimed artist known for her role in the popularization of taxidermy art and the formation of this recently recognized genre. Her avant-garde taxidermy sculptures gained worldwide attention in 2005 when they appeared on the front page of the New York Times art section, but Brewer began rewriting the definition of art in the early 1990s with the controversial gilded animal corpses that she produced while earning her BFA at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. She has dedicated the last 25 years to resurrecting animals via sculpture, and though the outward appearance of her work continually evolves the philosophy behind it remains the same; Her works pay tribute to the animal and are designed to tell their story, as well as hers. They are an exploration of death and rebirth fueled by a lifelong love affair with the natural world. Animals have played a central role throughout her life and her work reflects an intimate relationship with them. As a child, Brewer was fascinated by the funerary practices of different cultures. She took a special interest in belief systems that venerated the preserved remains of the dead and those that involved reincarnation. She used the latter as a coping mechanism to deal with the death of her pets, taking comfort in the notion that the animal wasn’t entirely gone, its spirit lived on in another form. Brewer's splicing of different species into a singular creature symbolizes the various animals that are potential new hosts for transitioning spirits. She feels all creatures continue to exhibit their beauty even in death and her work serves to remind viewers that both beauty and reverence are relative.

A primary directive throughout Brewer's career has been the utilization of ethically obtained materials and she is noted as a trendsetter in this arena. No animals are killed for her art. Instead, she salvages roadkill, natural deaths, remnants of animals used for food, and repurposes vintage taxidermy mounts. She believes nothing that was once living should be taken for granted and recycles as much of the animal into art as possible. This no-kill, "waste-not, want-not" credo was used by Brewer and her colleagues to construct the philosophical framework of the genre. This ideology has since become a hallmark of the art movement and the ethics model adopted by newcomers, a large percentage of whom are female.

The art movement became the catalyst for a taxidermy renaissance in North America as Brewer's work, along with that of other pioneers, changed people's perception of taxidermy. Artists promoting their use of ethically sourced animals became the transformative element that neutralized the long-standing stigma attached to taxidermy in the United States. This new ethics platform broadened taxidermy's appeal and made it palatable to a new demographic. Assimilation into the mainstream has since given rise to a taxidermy omnipresence in pop culture. In the years since Brewer and her colleagues spearheaded the art movement, taxidermy has enjoyed a level of popularity that it hasn’t experienced since the Victorian era and its revival has become an international phenomenon. Brewer remains a prominent figure within the genre whose influence can be seen aesthetically as well as ethically. Her provocative use of animals continues to push boundaries and generate introspection about the roles they play in our individual lives and our society.

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