Vices Versus: Taxidermy by Courtney Soldan-Els
Carnalas: Multimedia work by Sarah Smith
An à la mode study of habit and adornment
Vices Versus is a contemporary take on taxidermy, focusing particular attention to the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the ideas of home and ritual. All of the animals on display in this show were salvaged post–mortem from a freezer in an abandoned local pet shop. In this exhibition, I invite viewers to consider our modern conceptions of animals and objects.
First, and foremost, my artwork is an intimate self–portrait. While the initial basis for each of my pieces is very carefully selected, it is important to me to create a body of work that is engaging on multiple levels and inviting to viewers.
My taxidermy art, in particular, pays a specific homage to the white mouse along with a collection of other “urban undesirables.” I call attention to the evolution of animals as modern–day pop icons taken from their historical roots as spirit totems. Using my own association with the animal world, I explore the interconnectivity between humans and animals, and our respective environments. I address topics such as animal friends–versus–foes, present–day human relationships with animals (both medicinal and spiritual), and in particular, the continuing loss of human connection with the animal world.
Every animal that becomes a part of my body of work is either found or donated, and ultimately, the respect and connection with these animals translates into a tangible dialogue between my piece, the viewer, and myself.
Courtney Soldan–Els is a self–taught taxidermist and Kansas City native. A recent graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute class of 2011, she is returning to school for an extra semester to obtain her double major in both Fiber and Creative Writing.
Growing up, my family and I tip-toed around passion and emotion, blanketing everything with a thick layer of tense, sarcastic humor, never directly addressing any issue. Because of this, I’m incapable of taking even my own pain too seriously. Although I satirize the themes and subjects in my work, I truly admire and sympathize with them; my imagery is pop-y and flowery, but also felt and sentimental. I approach each body of work as an opportunity to whole–heartedly communicate to someone I love that I'm sorry; I miss them; I love them.
Sarah Smith was born and raised in Houston, Texas of which she is abundantly proud. She recently graduated with her BFA in Printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute and continues to live and work as a painter in Kansas City.