The Art of Repurposed Rodents

Image: www.dinnerforschmucks.com

We saw Dinner For Schmucks on DVD last night. Not great. I usually avoid anything marketed as “screwball” or “zany” but this time my guard was down. That’s because the film is the most recent remake of a French film, Le dîner de cons, so adored that multiple adaptations have appeared in other languages.

But the 114 minute run time was worth it for each glimpse of the mouse dioramas created by Steve Carell’s “idiot” character. The rodent versions of The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, among many others, were created by special effects artists (and siblings) Charles, Stephen, and Edward Chiodo.

These pieces don’t represent Outsider Art (one of my many obsessions) but if taxidermists are out there bringing forth their own version of reality using dead animals, it might come close. So I strolled through the interwebz for a quick investigation. Not surprisingly, such artwork is out there. It’s creepy but interesting. Here are a few examples.

Top Hat Taxidermy offers what appears to be a steampunk guinea pig vehicle.

Image: www.tophattaxidermy.com

Loved to Death creates scenes such as Chop Shop.

Image: www.lovedtodeath.net

Jeanie M. transforms roadkill into imaginative figures.

Image: www.mouseangel.com

Funeral home director Sam Sanfillippo has an entire museum of animal scenes. Mr. Sanfillippo, according to an article in Extreme Craft collected squirrels and other creatures that perished by accident, then with the help of taxidermist Vito Marchino, repurposed them to make themed displays.

Image: by Garth Johnson, Extreme Craft's Flickr photostream

Sarina Brewer follows her own strict ethical guidelines. She runs Custom Creature Taxidermy offering a wide array of taxidermy-based art.

Image: www.customcreaturetaxidermy.com

Then I discovered (why didn’t I go to Wikipedia first?) that this work isn’t Outsider Art. It’s called anthropomorphic taxidermy and Queen Victoria was delighted by it way back in 1851.

Now have no interest in collecting less fortunate rodents to dress and pose. Heck, I’ve rushed my daughter’s pet white rats to the veterinarian for medical intervention. But I’m glad a somewhat exasperating movie gave me a reason to learn a little about this unusual form of taxidermy. I also think someone as dedicated to an esoteric craft as Steve Carell’s character in Dinner For Schmucks shouldn’t be called an idiot.


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Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.