An Artist’s Cruelty-Free Taxidermy

Kelly Rene Jelinek has turned the hunting trophy on its proverbial head.

Photo courtesy of Little Stag Studio

Tofurky, fake fur, and now—fauxdermy. Little Stag Studio’s Kelly Rene Jelinek has turned the hunting trophy on its proverbial head by creating cruelty-free mounted heads and full-body animals made from recycled upholstery and other scraps. Using the same foam mounts that taxidermists use, Jelinek layers on pieces of recycled fabric along with recuperated cloth from flea markets or vintage coats.


“As a someone who grew up in rural Wisconsin, I became thoroughly accustomed to seeing taxidermy deer and game mounts—I thought of them as standard items of household decor,” the artist explains on her website. “Even when I was a small child they never scared or disgusted me—if anything, they fascinated me.”

The mix of old and new is most striking in how simultaneously fresh and traditional these creations look. You can picture them in a vegetarian restaurant, but also in an old hunting lodge, and some old fogy hunter never even noticing.

“I think that many people find the twist of taking something traditional and perhaps nostalgic—taxidermy and upholstery—and combining them together is what makes them interesting and appealing,” the artist tells GOOD by email. “They’re ‘out of the box,’ but not something overwhelmingly strange or foreign.”

The artist and Little Stag Studio (“just a fancy title for my basement”) reside in Wisconsin. Her work and commissions are available through several galleries (listed on her website) and also through Etsy.

“I find that this quote from Edgar Allan Poe pretty much sums up everything that I am about: ‘There is no exquisite beauty ... without some strangeness in the proportion,’” the artist says.

Courtesy of Little Stag Studio

Courtesy of Little Stag Studio

Courtesy of Little Stag Studio

Courtesy of Little Stag Studio

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