The title may make it sound creepy and even a little intimidating but the idea behind "Stuffed: A Pseudo Taxidermy Show" happening this weekend at The Bricks of Ybor is whimsy and fun.
"The big rule is that we didn't want any real animals harmed," said Chad Cardoza of Kickstart your Art, the organization responsible for the exhibit. "Everything had to be created, be lighthearted and whimsical."
The art show, which will feature 25 pieces by 22 different artists, was inspired by one of the biggest connoisseurs of fantastic imaginary creatures, Dr. Seuss, who in the 1930s made a similar art project. The show included multimedia sculptures of made up animals like the Two Horned Drouberhannis and the Blue Green Abelard, strange-looking but amiable characters like the ones famously featured in illustrations for his children's books.
"Seeing those made us think we should get people to come up with some characters in an unorthodox way," said Cardoza. "We didn't know if there would be enough people interested but the feedback was incredible. We had between 30 and 40 submissions."
Some of those artists, like Alicia Deerly Departed, are sculptors, used to working with textiles and fabric for their creations.
"A couple of years ago, I was bored and just started out. I've done 60 of them so far," said the Tampa native, whose portfolio includes a hand-sewn mounted and stuffed rabbit head wearing a flower crown and a bow-tie wearing deer. "I hadn't done a giraffe before so I'm doing a 2-feet-tall one for the show."
Chelsea Van Solkema, another textile artist, opted for less traditional creatures.
"I have two pieces. One of them has two heads. It looks like a goat-dog hybrid," explains Van Solkema, who affectionately named her creation Poly & Ceph, short for Policephaly, the medical condition of having more than one head. "The other is Aurora, a white unicorn."
The materials are similar for all creations — faux fur, fleece, paint, glue, stuffing and metal wiring, to name a few. According to photographer Nicole Kilbert, who is showing her very first 3D multimedia sculpture, resourcefulness is key in putting them together.
"In photography, you have to be a technician first. You have to plan all the details to have a good final product," said Kilbert, who spent more than a month planning how she would make Octolepoptera, a mix of a bunny, octopus and bat, come together. "I sketched it out and talked to different people about what would be the best way to do this. The hardest part was figuring out how it would hang because it needed to fly."