Half-Human, Half-Beast: The Incredible Story Behind These Taxidermy Animals

Rethinking what separates us from nature...and what unites us.

Brooklyn-based artist Kate Clark has a unique gift, due in part to the nature of her medium — preserved flesh and hides — but also due to the fact that her vision of what she does has a peculiar clarity that transcends the surreal nature of her sculptures.


Her sculptures combine taxidermy animals and human faces... But they're not meant to frighten.

"When encountering my sculptures," Clark writes on her website,  "the viewer is faced with a lifelike fusion of human and animal that investigates which characteristics separate us within the animal kingdom, and more importantly, which unite us. The sculptures visually, emotionally and intellectually explore this overlap that exists across cultures, along histories, and within societies."


Indeed, her sculptures evoke empathy rather than fear...

Asserting His Influence#kateclark

Posted by Kate Clark on Thursday, January 15, 2015

The faces are old animal hides that are shaved and sewn over clay molds that look like human faces.

In a recent feature on Clark's work, National Geographic emphasized the strange effect of seeing human faces on "wild" animals, writing that the sculptures "confront the viewer with mankind's innate connection with the animal kingdom by evoking empathy, curiosity, and, sometimes, discomfort."

It's hard to believe that these creatures are not "real."

The natural detail — pores, hair, texture — that emerges from the medium heightens the feeling of empathy: We are made from the same things.


The effect is intentional.

Clark writes that "the unexpectedness of the human face on these animals also evokes curiosity. They are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, natural, calm, innocent, dignified."

She continues, describing the relatable nature of the pieces, adding that:

"The facial features are believable and the skin, which is the animal's skin, has been shaved to reveal porous and oily features that we recognize as our own. The viewer has an intimate relationship with the face and then identifies with the animal, acknowledging the animalistic inheritance within the human condition."




The effect is intentional.

Clark writes that "the unexpectedness of the human face on these animals also evokes curiosity. They are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, natural, calm, innocent, dignified."

She continues, describing the relatable nature of the pieces, adding that:

"The facial features are believable and the skin, which is the animal's skin, has been shaved to reveal porous and oily features that we recognize as our own. The viewer has an intimate relationship with the face and then identifies with the animal, acknowledging the animalistic inheritance within the human condition."



The sculptures appear at once childlike and preternaturally wise.

"We revere the natural world," Clark writes, "and are seduced by characteristics we no longer see in ourselves, such as fierceness, instinctiveness, purity."

And it's true. To look at one of Kate Clark's sculptures is to suddenly become aware of one of the most profound effects of art: that of provoking a search for recognition in the piece, of inciting a sense of wonder about the emotional life of the art and the artist.

In Clark's art, we see human qualities: courage, wisdom, strength, hope...perhaps even love.

To see more of Kate Clark's incredible work, please visit her website. You may also find information about upcoming exhibits on her Facebook page and marvel at her creations on Instagram.