Exclusive Q&A with senior artist, taxidermist

Jensen Moore

Washburn’s Art Building is currently displaying the works of senior art student, Joe Wayner. The exhibition, entitled “Sharing Nature’s Design,” showcases, among other pieces, numerous paintings of wild animals and landscapes. However, some students may believe the exhibit is rather controversial due to its display of taxidermy.

“Even though I am against taxidermy, they are easily the strongest works in terms of craftsmanship,” said Tyler Quintin, freshman art major.

Q: What inspired you to do a nature themed exhibit?

A: I have a passion for the outdoors and wildlife. I try my best to capture either wildlife in their natural habitat to a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

Q: What is an artistic outlook on nature?

A: Being an avid hunter and fisherman, I get to spend a fair amount of time outdoors and can often times be caught just hunting with a camera.

Q: Can you describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

A: I have different stories for each piece, but one recent inspiration for a painting is of a picture I took duck hunting with a friend. It is of a spread of decoys on the Kansas River with a fiery sunset, all being reflected in the water with the oranges, yellows and pinks.

Q: Some would say the placement of taxidermy in your show was a controversial choice, was that your initial intention?

A: Placing taxidermy in my show was not me trying to get a rise out of anyone. My intention was just to simply show a few pieces [that] I have done to bring some [people] a closer look at what we have right here in Kansas. My overall mission is to preserve the beauty of nature. I believe the more we educate others about wildlife and the outdoors the more they will want to take care of it.

Q: How did you get into taxidermy?

A: My interest in taxidermy started when I was younger. My dad would come with pheasants from a hunt and I just thought their feathers were so pretty. I started messing around with different feather displays and such. In middle school I bought a few books to learn the basics of taxidermy and purchased supplies and dove in with my trial and error. I met a local taxidermist from a field trip in fifth grade that agreed to teach me how to mount a fish and a bird my freshman year of high school. I practiced and practiced  and I got to the point where I was good enough to start taking on work. I got certified at the Dan Rinehart School of Taxidermy in Edgerton, Wisconsin a few years ago.

Q: Professionally what’s your goal?

A: I plan to pursue my taxidermy business called Misty Waters Taxidermy. Eventually, but hopefully, in the near future I would like to build a building where I can display my mounts and paintings like a Taxidermy and Arts Studio.

Joe Wayner’s senior exhibition, “Sharing Nature’s Design,” will be shown in the art building until March 1. A Gallery Talk will be held at noon Feb. 27 as well as the gallery reception to be held later that day from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information about the exhibit or his works you may contact Joe Wayner at [email protected].