Straddling a line between science, sculpture, and plaything, New York-based artist Deborah Simon recently showed these bear sculptures, featuring uncanny anatomical embroidery, at the Packer Gallery in Chicago. Reacting to the unnatural, contradictory tendencies of scientific classification on the natural world, Simon works in the revelatory intricacies of the ursine anatomy, while retaining qualities of whimsy and playfulness. The sculptures are made from clay, faux fur, linen, embroidery floss, acrylic paint, glass, wire, and foam—the same materials you might find in a children’s toy. By removing the skin of the animal to show the inner workings of the incredibly lifelike bears, Simon melds a commentary of poaching with the reality of the creatures’ humanity—subtle, sad, and scary.

Here is her statement:

My work walks the line between taxidermy, toy and sculpture. Each animal is meticulously fabricated to create an unnervingly accurate but slightly off version of the natural animal. Evolution has always held a particular fascination for me, informing how I create and group the animals in my work. As I’ve read and dug through museum collections to research my pieces, western science’s mania for labeling, codifying and collecting has stood out. Most of this categorizing bears little resemblance to how animals and plants exist out in the natural world and I find this disconnect fascinating. 

Check out more of her incredible work on her website.

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[via Designboom]