Free and Open to the Public
Location: Krause Recital Hall upstairs at
The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance
Afternoon program! 4:00 - 6:30
Reception at the Mildred Complex(ity) 6:30 - 8:00
A Night Dedicated to the Delights and Moral Ambiguities of Taxidermy
Presented by Joanna Ebenstein, Creator of Morbid Anatomy
Evan Michelson with "The Saddest Object in the World;"
Michael Barraco with "Bird as Vessel: Taxidermy and the Imagination"
JD Powe with an anthropomorphic taxidermy show and tell
And a screening of Ronni Thomas’ short film Walter Potter: The Man that Married Kittens
Moderated and introduced by Joanna Ebenstein
Joanna Ebenstein is a Brooklyn-based writer, curator, photographer and graphic designer. She is the creator of the Morbid Anatomy blog, library and event series, and was co-founder and creative director of the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn. She is the author of The Anatomical Venus, editor of the forthcoming Death: A Graveside Companion (October 2017), and co-author of Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy. She regularly works with such institutions as The Wellcome Collection and Amsterdam's Vrolik Museum, and her writing and photography have been published and exhibited internationally. Her work explores the intersections of art and medicine, death and culture, and the objective and subjective.
Evan Michelson is a collector, writer, curator, lecturer and dealer of rare, beautiful and mysterious antiques. She is co-owner of Obscura Antiques and Oddities, the landmark curiosity shop located in New York City’s East Village for more than two decades. She was also the co-star of the reality show “Oddities,” which aired between 2010 - 2013 on Discovery Science. Evan was a founding board member of the Morbid Anatomy Museum, and she continues to hold the position of Morbid Anatomy Scholar-in-Residence. Evan specializes in the acquisition of uncanny artifacts, and those objects that span the divide between the useful and the inexplicable, the comforting and the unsettling, the utilitarian and the sacred. Evan has lectured at the Fashion Institute of Technology, The Coney Island Museum, The Morbid Anatomy Museum, Yale University, Harvard University and the Sinister Creature Convention. She has been profiled by The New Yorker, Entrepreneur Magazine and The New York Times. She can occasionally be found rhythmically banging metal in the streets as part of an ongoing industrial project spanning more than three decades.
Michael Barraco is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work is concerned with the post-natural histories of organisms, the interclusion of natural and man-made infrastructure, the intersections of art and science, and how the existential concerns of the individual manifest themselves in the Anthropocene. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as The University of New Mexico, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in New York; SOMA, Mexico City; White Rabbit Arts Festival, Nova Scotia; Emergency Arts, Las Vegas; Momenta Art, Brooklyn; and Flux Factory, Queens. Barraco currently runs the education department at HVCCA in New York’s Hudson Valley.
JD Powe, Technology entrepreneur, earned a BA in the History of Science from Harvard University and was fortunate enough to study evolutionary biology with the late Stephen Jay Gould and ornithology under the late Dr. Raymond A. Paynter Jr. His life-long fascination with evolutionary biology and natural history led to an extensive private collection of antique taxidermy specimens, including works by some of the Victorian era's most acclaimed animal preservers. Most recently, JD was invited to curate the taxidermy exhibit at Brooklyn's Morbid Anatomy Museum. The 4-month exhibition, Taxidermy: Art, Science & Immortality, drew enthusiasts and curiosity-seekers from around the globe hoping to see extinct species such as the passenger pigeon and remarkable oddities such as an extraordinary 4-tusked walrus dated to 1915. The exhibit's greatest attraction was arguably Walter Potter's The Kitten's Wedding, a world-renown anthropomorphic tableau featuring 19 kittens dressed in full Victorian wedding regalia attending a posh ceremony (c. 1890). For the exhibit, this work was displayed alongside would-be wedding guests including boxing squirrels, sadistic frogs, a multi-level factory of paper-making mice and a notorious drunken monkey. The Museum was forced to shutter its doors shortly after the exhibit ended, but Powe continues to share his zeal for both the artistic and scientific aspects of Victorian taxidermy via independent speaking engagements and an upcoming book project on taxidermy pets.
Ronni Thomas is a director/editor and was Filmmaker in Residence at the recently shuttered Morbid Anatomy Museum. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York he considers himself a 'working class film-maker', seeing equal value in the sublime and the ordinary. Though his films typically deal with dark, eccentric and bizarre subject matters, he approaches each topic from a human and often light-hearted angle. In addition to writing and directing several award-winning short films (Radio Girl, Old Song and Dance), he co-Produced Hey Is Dee Dee Home featuring the late Dee Dee Ramone and Camera Gun, a short post 9/11 documentary featuring American Jihad Akil Collins (My Jihad). In 2011 he and Morbid Anatomy founder, Joanna Ebenstein, created The Midnight Archive; a web documentary series that would go on to critical acclaim and receive several awards including the 2013 Silver Telly for best web documentary series. In addition to making films, he is also the guest lecturer and programmer for the Raindance Film Festival in London. He has also written for The Morbid Anthology, United Academics, Huffington Post, The Journal of Social Sciences and Raindance Film Magazine. He lives a blissfully surreal life with his wife, 8-year-old son and exotic cat in Brooklyn New York.