Karen Nemes is a cheerful subversive based in South Bend, Indiana. Her passions include rogue taxidermy, social justice activism, and punk music. Her work is produced under the studio name "La Grotesquerie."
All animals used by La Grotesquerie are ethically sourced. The majority are made from reclaimed rodadkill that Karen collects, cleans, and repurposes into unique characters. No animals are killed for the creation of these pieces.
Karen is an award-winning artist, placing second at the 2015 Baltimore Taxidermy Open, first at the 2016 Philadelphia Alt Taxidermy Competition, winning "Most Whimsical" at the 2016 Baltimore Taxidermy Open, and taking second place at the 2017 Baltimore Taxidermy Open.
Karen finds her work to be a profoundly transformational experience. She writes:
"For as long as I can remember, I felt inadequate: broken, defective, not-good-enough...In my work, I am continually drawn to the broken, damaged, often mangled forms of animals whose lives have been cut short, often in violent ways. You may see something morbid, disgusting, and broken; I see the potential and opportunity that hides beneath the battered bodies.
Working with blood, flesh, and bone is an intimate and organic process. In the hours I spend with each dead animal, a personal connection develops that borders on love. Every time it works—when something is preserved and made new—my soul claims a victory.
I heal myself with every scrape and stitch."
"Karen Nemes creates sculpture using taxidermy techniques and mixed media. The animal remains incorporated into the sculpture become not only a tribute to the life that once shared the earth with us, but a lifelong work of art that tells a story.
Each story will be written by the viewer, who will ultimately develop a personal relationship with the animal portrayed in the sculpture. Karen's techniques are amazing, seldom seen in the development of such sensational sculpture."
— Claudia A. Maslowski, NIA Juror