Meet the Collector of Once Furry Friends – Now in Absentia

Jennifer Walrath has a collection like no other we’ve seen. Learn the story of what inspires her to collect these once-living quadrupeds!

What is it that you collect? 

North American Mammalian Animal Skulls

Tell us everything about this collection! What attracted you to this? What do you like most about it? Which one is your favorite? 

The architecture of an animal’s skull holds hints of awareness. Voluminous curves, the thickness, and the absence of bone showing where the senses and mind were held. Skulls are the scaffolding of living beings and I have always found this fascinating. A couple of my favorite skulls are the otters and the feral pigs. The otters because of his large braincase and the pigs because of his long curved canines and bumpy postorbital processes.

When did you start your collection? 

I started my collection with a brown bear skull I was given by a taxidermist in Salmon, Idaho in 2007. I was really struck by its beauty and a little saddened. I developed a relationship with Chris and talked him into sending animal skulls to me here in Philadelphia. I like to think I am giving them a second life… honoring them and studying their structures. As a biologist I am always thinking about evolution and how you can not have form without function. Nature is efficient that way.

What else do you enjoy collecting? 

I like collecting and writing in journals. I have so many journals!

What inspires you most about having your collection in your home? 

What I love most about having my skull collection in my studio is the fact that I can access them anytime for artistic inspiration. I really get lost in them. I plan on creating a series of clay vessels based on their anatomy and focusing on their dentition.

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