Plumigeri, part of a series entitled "My Still Life Aviary"
Through scientific knowledge and acute observation, precise sculptural artistry and theatrical intuition, the taxidermist aims to achieve the illusion of life through the remains of death. But it is hard to view taxidermy without any qualms. Even as Lynn Savarese thrilled at the much more intimate encounter with a specimen than would have been possible were it still alive, she also found it disturbing. Although enthralled by the enigmatic beauty and character of the aviary specimens featured in her photographs, she has never lost sight of man's hubris in turning these animals into replicas of themselves and the irony inherent in striving to achieve a kind of immortality for them by killing them. Doubly ironic, however, is that she has also never felt more deeply the wonder and beauty of our animal kin than in her close-up encounters with these mounted birds.
Specimens that have been abandoned before their completion and remain bound in string and pins, or that have fallen into disrepair, are especially heartrending. Seeing their heads or wings wobbling from their wire supports, their glass eyes dulled or cracked, their feathers coated with arsenic powder...Savarese felt as if she were witnessing their second death.
The fate of many taxidermy specimens remains in limbo. They are too old or tattered to be put on public display. Federal and state law forbids the sale of any that are endangered species, even to those who might have an interest in preserving and protecting them.
My Still Life Aviary attempts to tell their fuller story—to capture their haunting charisma and the ethical challenges they present, as well as their power to convey the endangerment and threat of extinction many bird species face today. Despite their tragic circumstances, these specimens still exude great personality and dignity. Rarely are life and death portrayed with such quiet force and wonder. Paying them tribute became, for Savarese, an almost reverential mission.