In the middle of the nineteenth-century, in the frontier territory of Colorado, Martha Maxwell shot and stuffed thousands of animals to populate her museums, first in Boulder and then in Denver. She was one of only a few women naturalists and taxidermists at the time. Maxwell was one of the first people to arrange animals into habitat dioramas, a practice that would later become the museum standard. As Colorado’s representative to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, she built an environment of stuffed animals the likes of which had never been seen. Despite these achievements, Maxwell was never able to make her passion financially viable. She charged admissions and sold photos of her collection. But, it was not enough. She died and the collection was sold off, eventually rotting in a barn in upstate New York. One of the surviving photos of Maxwell’s collection is a portrait of her daughter Mabel, posing with a menagerie of birds. Re-Model, installed at Tuck Under Projects, is comprised of two artworks. The first consists of a habitat diorama based on the historic portrait of Mabel Maxwell. The second is a photographic recreation of the portrait, where I exchanged the gray studio backdrop of the original image for the possibilities that are suggested by the ubiquitous film effects tool of the green screen.
View the related public collaboration at the Walker Art Center here - Photo Copy