A Gowanus gallery offering a $45 class in “anthropomorphic taxidermy” today sold out in four hours.
For inspiration, the gallery will have a punk-rocker mouse with green hair and a Hamlet mouse cloaked in a cape on hand for the class.
They look like sculptures, but the figurines were once living, breathing, scurrying rodents.
“It looks less like an animal and more like a weird art project,” said Susan Jeiven, 39, a tattoo artist and taxidermist who’ll teach the class at Observatory art space.
The three-hour stuffing session is not for the squeamish.
Jeiven buys the frozen vermin from snake-feed stores, then thaws them out and sucks out their blood with a syringe.
On class day, students will clean out the mice’s innards with razors and remove their bones. Borox and strong chemicals are applied to preserve their coats.
Then the artistry gets under way, with the students shaping molds out of clay, sewing on the preserved skins, and using wires to set the mice into odd poses.
“I don’t like rogue taxidermy. I want them to look classy,” Jeiven said.
Some of the works fetched $53,000 during a 2003 auction of the largest collections of the oddities in Cornwall, and macabre artist Damien Hirst loves the stuff.
“There is definitely a revival. Our lectures that touch on taxidermy are standing-room only,” said Joanna Ebenstein, an Observatory curator, noting that the biggest interest has come from women.
Part of the appeal of anthropomorphic taxidermy is making an unusual sculpture, rather than just a fish on a plaque, Jeiven believes.
The Observatory gallery had to schedule three more sessions to meet the hot demand for the esoteric art form.
“It just exploded. As soon as the hip people like it, everyone seems to like it,” she added.