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In the late 19th century, taxidermy artists who worked with birds referred to themselves as bird stuffers, often advertising this on signs outside their shops. The role of a Bird Stuffer was to preserve and prepare bird skins and parts and, with great care, present them in a natural state of lifelike activity. Bird cabinets and domes were a popular way to bring nature into the parlour. They created scenes with birds mounted on tree branches in an aesthetic arrangement, the rarer the bird, the more valuable the cabinet.
Bird Stuffers portrays both the bizarre side of the art of taxidermy and romantic notions of nature painting. Through an awareness of material sensibilities, a mimicking of "stuffing" processes, and a slew of references to sublime nature painting and taxidermy cabinets, Meigs builds ironic scenes which highlight the Victorian ideal of conquering nature and its reality now pressing upon us with Earth's final demise.
Sandra Meigs (b. 1953, Baltimore, Maryland) holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1975) and an MA in Philosophy from Dalhousie University (1980). Her work has been exhibited at the Ydessa Hendeles Foundation, Toronto; the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; The Power Plant, Toronto; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Saidye Bronfman Centre, Montréal; the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal; Carleton University Art Gallery, Ottawa; and Open Space, Victoria. She has recently participated in group exhibitions at Museum London, London, Ontario; West Vancouver Museum, Vancouver; The Power Plant, Toronto; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto; the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton and the Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey. In 2015 Meigs received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Art and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize.
Concurrent to this show, Sandra Meigs: Sublime Rage runs at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection from May 20 to November 19, 2023.
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