FAQ

Why do you think women are taking a new interest in taxidermy?

Women working in these fields isn't anything "new" though there are more women interested in these fields now simply because the more opportunity exists now where it hasn't in the past (we no longer live in an era where women are completely unwelcome in any workplace because of laws or cultural norms). These same reasons are why there are more women now in the arts, sciences, tech, or anything-women in these fields have existed throughout history.

My favorite historical taxidermists are Jane Tost and Ada Rohu (of Australia, who in addition to winning numerous awards for their work, fought for equal pay back in the 1800s) and Martha Maxwell (a talented, eccentric American artist known for her elaborate exhibit of over 1000 animals at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial). There are many more recent women taxidermists who are masters in the field, like Jean Roll (the first taxidermy video I bought was her carcass casting video), Sallie Dahmes, Wendy Christiansen, Amy Ritchie, and so many more. They have been working much longer than I have and I’m shocked at how many people overlook their stories.

On a related note, depending on the culture, women have traditionally been the in charge of the home (with proof of women in prehistoric cultures having had a hand in the breakdown and preparation of hunted meat for mealtime), and throughout time as caretakers of the dead (tasked with washing, funerary duties, and last rites). Let's not forget the Victorian fancywork manuals with glorious details on why bird taxidermy was a great women's pastime. With all this, it really doesn't seem like such a "novelty" that women are drawn to this art form. 

Does being a woman offer differently informed perspective or approach? Maybe, but I think my background as a city person informs my work more than my gender. More importantly, it isn't about a trend or novelty, its simply being passionate about wildlife in an era where more people are having less contact with the natural world.

divya anantharaman