Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Butcher and the Brain

For the past year or so, most of the meat we consume is grown locally and processed by our local butcher. If I can, I'll show up to the kill site to watch the skinning and evisceration process. Recently, we purchased a goat to be roasted whole for our Thanksgiving dinner. I met a friend in Virgin (yes, this is a town in Utah) who joined us for Thanksgiving and who introduced me to the goat farmer just up the road. We purchased the goat and drove it back to my town and dropped it off at the butcher's.

Later that day I was in the studio working on a sculpture, when I had the idea to make a mold of the goat's brain, if possible. I called the butcher and asked him to give me a call when the goat was going to be killed and processed. Later that day the call came and I went over about the time he removed the last of the goat's skin. When I arrived, he hack sawed the top of the skull off just below the horns. We then scooped out the brain, but to my disappointment, he cut the brain in half and besides it was too mushy for mold making.

A day or so later, the idea persisted so I went on line to look up "brains for sale" and yes, they can be purchased. They are sold to schools where the brains are dissected for biology class. I ordered a sheep's brain for about $18 and a few days later it arrived at our door.

The preserved sheep's brain that came wasn't as visually interesting as I would have liked, the gyrus (lobe) and the sulcus (groove) were not defined, probably from the preservation process. I made a mold of it anyway and once the plaster hardened and dried, I pressed clay into the mold and the resulting positive had to be touched up to emphasize it's "brainyness". I then made a second generation mold and this is the result.

More brain sculptures are in the works. I'll be putting the brain through its paces adapting it to already existing imagery that I have in my quiver.

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