NORMAN — Taxidermy and rhinestones. Not many associate the two things together but Norman artist Michael Joy Wilson has blended the two to create art that is shockingly both beautiful and humorous.
With a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from the University of Oklahoma, Wilson dabbles in many 2-D and 3-D mediums. Her taxidermy sculptures began as a way to express the dichotomy Wilson found in preserving the beauty of a living animal by killing and stuffing it.
Seven of Wilson’s taxidermied, bejeweled fish are on display at MAINSITE Contemporary Art, 120 E. Main St., through mid-July. Her work is being exhibited as part of the award for earning Norman Arts Council’s 2012-2013 Individual Artist Award.
Q: How did you get into taxidermy?
A: I’ve always found it really interesting and weird. My parents went hunting and stuff and I’d seen taxidermy. They had all these how-to books that I read when I was a kid. I have a collection of taxidermied things people have given me over the years.
I’m really interested in animals. I spend a lot of time outside and taxidermy, it’s kind of like an art form, it’s kind of like sculpture but you have to kill the animal to make the taxidermy which I always thought was scary.
The pieces in the show are old mounts and a lot of them were damaged, in fact I think all of them were damaged. They were discarded pieces I ended up with. For this particular show the pieces have a lot of meaning for me. My partner’s father was a fisherman and actually caught most of them. He passed away and left behind a lot of messed up mounts. I also have a compulsion to fix things so it combined my weird interest with taxidermy and fixing things and things that had meant something to me in the past. They’re like little memorials. They were an actual life.