Pendants, Chokers, and Earrings by Sarina Brewer - Custom Creature Taxidermy of Minneapolis, MN
These items were created in the tradition of mourning jewelry and memorial art – artifacts of antiquity that were created with the hair, teeth and bones of a deceased loved one. The purpose of creating such objects was to commemorate the dead and to give those in mourning a physical piece of their loved one that they could keep close to them.
Keeping and venerating remains of the dead has been going on for millennia around the world but the practice of creating mourning jewelry in western culture began around the 17th century. It continued in various forms throughout Europe, peaking in popularity during the Georgian and Victorian era but sadly vanishing soon thereafter. Thankfully the philosophy behind the wearing of such mementos has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and has once again found a place in our collective spirituality. This jewelry is an extension of that philosophy and a parallel means of expression – we keep those we cherish close to us.
None of the animals used in Brewer’s work were killed for the purpose of using them in her art. All animal components are recycled. She utilizes salvaged roadkill and discarded livestock, as well as the many animal materials that are donated to her. Donated animals are often casualties of the pet trade, destroyed nuisance animals, or animals that died of natural causes. A very strict “waste not, want not” policy is adhered to in her studio - virtually every part of the animal is recycled in some manner.
I came upon twin fawns in the display case of a mom and pop toy and science store in Kansas City, Missouri. It took me two years to win the trust of the shop owner and save the money to buy them. A taxidermist spotted a dead deer by the side of the road. He stopped to properly dispose of the body and realized she was pregnant. He opened her and found near full-term twin fawns, he removed and preserved them.
Deer rarely have twins and the taxidermist retained the uterine gesture of their bodies. I built them a vitrine with a light blue base. Their prematurity exaggerates the delicacy of an incredibly sweet thing. The points of their hooves, the length of their lashes, the spots of their hides, nose to small nose in an ur-cartoonish realism … Viewers’ eyes trick them into believing the fawns are breathing. The tragedy of beauty is its transience.
The twins live forever in their own demise. They are sleeping beauties.They have been muses since I first saw them … We dress death in lilies and bronze the names of our dead sons on walls. We erect altars of toys and hold candlelight vigils to express hope. My twin fawns sleep endlessly on their baby blue block in my studio. The twins never opened their eyes yet their wondrous fatality evokes an acceptable alternative to death.
— Peregrine Honig