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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Artist Duo Uses Preserved Animals in Elaborate Dioramas -- 'Raise Your Tiny Paws to Heaven'

Posted on Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Finis Vitae Sed Non Amoris Taxidermy Baby Bunny - AUDRA AND BRENNAN DANCE
  • Audra and Brennan Dance
  • Finis Vitae Sed Non Amoris Taxidermy Baby Bunny

We once knew an artist who had an unusual way of showing how much she loved her pets: After they died, she had them mounted as a way of celebrating and paying tribute to their lives. The head of her small dog, for example, hung on a plaque on her bedroom door. The whole body of her iguana, meanwhile, occupied her desk. (Oh, stop it. We know what you're thinking. She was very nice to her critters while they were alive, and we think her memorial gallery was pretty cool.) Two other artists we recently met have broadened this idea by creating elaborate dioramas with animals that have already been preserved. Their names are Audra and Brennan Dance, and their first solo show opens Saturday.

Chop Shop - AUDRA AND BRENNAN DANCE
  • Audra and Brennan Dance
  • Chop Shop
Audra and Brennan call themselves Loved to Death, which is also the name of their retail store on Haight Street. Inside the store is the Articulated Gallery, where the show will take place. The show is called "Raise Your Tiny Paws to Heaven." It will feature about 20 taxidermy diorama boxes that Audra and Brennan have created. Some of their past creations include a squirrel who is a serial killer, a mouse who runs a butcher shop, and a pigeon who looks like she could be Helena Bonham Carter in A Room with a View.
Pheasant Diorama - AUDRA AND BRENNAN DANCE
  • Audra and Brennan Dance
  • Pheasant Diorama
The duo is clear that all the animals used in their artwork come from ethical sources who provide them with recycled parts that would otherwise be thrown out. They also use parts in jewelry and other accessories. Their artist statement says they "have chosen to memorialize these animals rather than to let them go casually discarded. All parts that we use have been professionally preserved and will stand the test of time with proper care."

Audra and Brennan see their artwork as a kind of memorial to the animals.

"Much like the Victorians before us, [we] choose to take the time to honor the living soul that has passed by making mementos out of their dainty and precious remains," they write in their statement.

"Raise Your Tiny Paws to Heaven" opens Saturday (and continues through April 8) at Articulated Gallery. Admission is free.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.

Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF

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