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Lex Thompson

January 4 - 19, 2018

Colorado naturalist, Martha Maxwell shot and stuffed a menagerie of animals for an installation, titled Women’s Work, at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Maxwell was one of the first people to install animals in habitat dioramas, which later became the museum standard. Destitute, she built a cave within her Philadelphia exhibition in which to live for the duration of the fair. Attempts to commercialize her taxidermy through photographic mementos and other ancillary business ventures failed.

The works in Re/collect bring together two approaches to generating a record of Maxwell’s achievements. In part, the exhibition is composed of a selection of photographic documentation of the few remaining artifacts of Maxwell’s natural history collection. The other works in the exhibition call forth Maxwell’s work through reconstruction and reenactment of her achievements and aspects of her life. Together these two methodologies join an imagined vision of the past based on historical record, and a contemporary record of the past based on historic artifacts – two complementary and antithetical ways of telling the story of Maxwell’s zoological endeavor.

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