Elaine Bradford’s Wild Kingdom

It all started with condiment koozies. Houston artist Elaine Bradford, who supplied the ethereal creatures for our fashion feature this month, began crocheting covers %26#8220;for things in the fridge,%26#8221; she says. %26#8220;Then I moved on to logs and branches,%26#8221; even truck bumpers. But it wasn%26#8217;t until she saw two inveterate hunters %26#8212; her father and brother %26#8212; unloading some taxidermy that %26#8220;it just hit me to put it all together.%26#8221; Now, Bradford%26#8217;s sweater-wearing wild things (%26#8220;cute, yet unnerving crocheted taxidermic critters, which suggest paradoxical feelings of comfort and warmth alongside suffocation and restriction,%26#8221; says the art e-journal Might Be Good) are putting her on the art world%26#8217;s radar. Her most recent endeavors? A 2010 residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and an ambitious site-specific public commission, funded through the Houston Arts Alliance, set to unveil this fall at the Vinson Neighborhood Library. Bradford hand-crochets the sweaters %26#8212; masks, really %26#8212;%26nbsp;in sections, eyeballing the contours and proportions as she goes along then carefully stitching the crocheted sections onto the bodies. A few of Bradford%26#8217;s menagerie get some rather, well, unorthodox modifications: impossibly stretched necks and mile-long legs, which she achieves by lopping off heads and feet, then making the prosthetic parts with wire rod and Fiberfil. Indeed, says the dry-witted Bradford, %26#8220;I%26#8217;ve gotten more familiar with taxidermy than I ever thought I%26#8217;d be.%26#8221; Elaine Bradford is represented by Art Palace 3913 Main St., 281.501.2964; artpalacegallery.com.

Image: Artist Elaine Bradford prepares her flying Sweatered Duck for our September fashion shoot. Photo by Rob Brinkley.

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