By Ashley Goodman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos from www.thetaxidermist.tumblr.com
Sex, taxidermy and rock ‘n’ roll is a typical day for Ryan Hanley, a Florida native from New Symrna Beach. Hanley delved into taxidermy a little over four years ago. “We stopped into the local taxidermy shop who needed an apprentice. When I said I’d be there the next day, I showed up and he gave me 5 alligators to skin and flesh out,” Hanley said.
Hanley has quite an eccentric way of approaching taxidermy. He makes armadillos into lampshades, squirrels become rockstars and turtles are turned into ashtrays. His house is filled with these repurposed animals.
Hanley’s love affair with dead things began when he was in fourth grade at science camp, Hanley would often roam the woods looking for bones. His science teacher eventually let him experiment with hydraulic acid and a pig’s fetus.
The man who has influenced Hanley the most is Joseph Bishop, who worked at Quality Taxidermy in Deland. Bishop took him in and taught Hanley everything his grandfather knew. Many apprentices quit because Bishop was a “scary guy” as Hanley recalls. Once Bishop saw that taxidermy was something Hanley truly loved , he treated him like his own son. Hanley now has his own shop studio inside his and his wife’s 100 year-old house.
Early taxidermists have inspired much of Hanley’s bizarre, yet beautiful work. “The Jonas Brothers who began their work in taxidermy in 1908 using real skeletons, and Walter Potter who created huge scenes of taxidermy animals in human situations,” he said.
Most of the animals Hanley obtains are roadkill. The rest are brought in from customers. Recently, graffiti artist Nate Lowman, asked Hanley if he could stuff a pigeon for him. “He commissioned a taxidermy dead pigeon for the huge retrospective of his own work, to mimic artist Maurizio Cattelan’s permanently installed pigeons in the rafters of Peter Brant’s gallery where the exhibition took place. Everyone who attended was sure it was one of Cattelan’s pigeons having died from above,” said Hanley.
Hanley’s has a few projects he’s working on at the moment. “Right now, I’m filming a TV show about my work and crazy life with my wife. Other than that our friend, artist Heather Gabel, and I are planning a collaboration, we’re brain storming exact details of what we want to do,” said Hanley.
Hanley’s first official showing of his work will be at Anchor Boutique located on 210 St. George St. March 1st from 6-9 p.m. Free drinks, music and french macaroons made by Hanley himself will be served. For more information on Ryan and his creations please visit www.thetaxidermist.tumblr.com.