Sure, you’ve seen a moose head mounted on a wall before. It probably had really big antlers, too.
But was it re-enacting a scene from Dirty Dancing? Or perhaps guarding a chest full of pirate treasure?
This month, Cindy Klippenstein’s new exhibit Fur and Loathing is open at Northern Front Studio in Waterfront Station. The gallery showcases Klippenstein’s artistically rendered taxidermied squirrels, portraying everything from local musician Ben Mahony, to scenes from movies like Brokeback Mountain.
The show will be the first public presentation of her taxidermy work, though she has been creating artwork for years.
Klippenstein always saw herself working as an artist, and for years she studied painting and sculpture at the University of Manitoba.
Eventually, however, she felt a calling that moved her elsewhere.
“In the summers while I was in art school I worked at a hunting and fishing lodge,” she says. “I got to meet a lot of hunters and learned about skinning animals and the whole other side of the process.
“I soon realized this was an area where I could combine all my interests.”
To study the art of taxidermy Klippenstein travelled south to Springtown, Texas where she enrolled in the All Trophy’s School of Taxidermy. She’s since worked with deer, ravens, otters, lynx, and more, but Fur and Loathing will almost entirely feature squirrels.
“Squirrels are pretty adorable and funny looking,” she says. “They also look great as pirates.”
Klippenstein feels her show may not be for everyone, but invites people to have a look and not take it too seriously.
“I want people to come out and have a good laugh, that’s all,” she says. “I have a feeling somebody is going to have their feelings hurt, so I want to apologize to all the squirrel sympathizers out there.”
Local trappers donated the squirrels used in the show, and proceeds from the opening night gala went to the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.
In the future, Klippenstein plans to offer custom-made novelty taxidermy for those seeking unique gifts, but also embraces the more traditional side of the craft.
“I do want to be a serious taxidermist too. I’m not officially open as a business yet, but I’d like to be in the next couple of months. It’s actually a really great profession. There’s a huge demand for it here and it’s a cool way to make a living as an artist.”
Fur and Loathing can be experienced from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday at the Northern Front Studio, which is in Waterfront Station behind Boston Pizza.