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  • Karen Nemes

Oh, rats!

I was approached by my friend Eli, director of the LGBTQ Resource Center, about taking part in a Pride Month art event they're holding. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally make a piece I've had on my mind since the SCOTUS legalized gay marriage last year.

I started off with mice, but soon realized that delicate little skins don't react well to hair dye. After a couple frustrating days, I made the decision to use smallish rats instead. On the advice of another taxidermist, I tanned the hides before applying the dye to make the skins more durable.

Results varied. The colors were just not coming out vivid enough for my taste—and the clock was ticking for submission. I begged a few extra days from Eli and feverishly worked to get the rats in line. In all, I used/experimented with several coloring options: human hair color, food coloring, Tulip Spray Fabric Paint, and acrylic paint. All the processing took a bit of a toll on the bodies, and if I'd had more time I would have started all over AGAIN to really get them just right (better facial anatomy, injected paws/tails, etc etc).

However, I'm really just glad to be done with this one. If you're in the area, the reception is scheduled for this Sunday, June 12, at the LGBTQ Center in South Bend.

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