Wherever there are roads, there will also be roadkill; it’s a certainty. Death, and in this case, taxidermy, are two forces at work in Canadian artist Kate Puxley's work, which asks its viewers to think about our relationship with an increasingly unnatural world.
Her Roadkill Taxidermy sculptures examine the casualties of industrialization—weasels, raccoons, other rodents—creatures with whom we ostensibly share the planet, but in reality we rarely interact with, save for brief encounters with our cars that are far worse for them than for us.
But it’s precisely that collision between the industrial world and the (increasingly marginalized) natural one that Puxley’s interested in. She explains in an interview with Art Threat:
"Museum taxidermy mounts and dioramas are intended to teach the viewer about the animal’s ‘natural’ habitat. However, it is no longer relevant to place a raccoon in the setting of a forest. We cannot ignore the changing environment and how animals are being forced to adapt."
"Taxidermists strive to bring realism and majesty back to the animals they are mounted. This series is a tongue and cheek look at the hypocrisy of our species. No matter how beautiful that pheasant is, it looks ridiculous with a tin can on its head."
Puxley brings a scientific approach to assembling these roadkill taxidermy pieces—which are indeed actual roadkill victims—but the process is deeply personal for her, and the ideal medium for the themes she wants to address. Whether it’s a weasel curled snuggly into a styrofoam take-out container or a nutria suspended in midair during a perpetual state of falling (in her Senza Terra series), the sculptures and photos remind us of the vast disconnect between human society and wild species. And maybe, at least while we look at her work, it can collapse the distance between them and us.