For Museum of Unnatural History, Houston-based artist Elaine Bradford has created a faux natural history museum filled with a variety of animals and specimens “discovered” by the fictitious fringe scientist Dr. Thomas Harrigan during his explorations into a dimension known as “The Sidereal”. According to the museum’s pseudo-scientific text, The Sidereal is “in many ways a mirror image of our world [that] has produced a variety of species possessing adaptations wildly divergent from those we see on earth.” A visitor to Museum of Natural History will view creatures that include the Pushmi-pullyu (Tragus januali), a lichen eating two headed sheep; the longcat (Lynx metamorpha), a blue mite covered feline whose powerful limbs and body can expand up to ten times their at-rest length; and the Procyon besheret, fondly known as the “pair-bears” due to the permanent fusing of tails during a secret mating ritual.
The animals on view are constructed from taxidermy animals, sometimes in their original state, other times cut in half or fused with the bodies of others, which are then sheathed in outfits which Bradford carefully crochets, an art taught to her by her grandmother, when the artist was a child growing up in Alice, Texas. Elaine did not really appreciate the calming, repetitive act of crochet, nor did she take it seriously as an art, until she was in graduate school at the California Institute of the Arts. Here Bradford developed a project in which she crocheted individual sweaters for everything in her refrigerator, including all the baby carrots. “I was really interested in the connotations that came along with crochet for me, ideas of comfort, warmth, and family; the absurd act of making labor intensive objects for things that have no need for them always makes me chuckle.”