Catherine Coan is an artist, taxidermist, and professor of creative writing and art history in California. For several years, she owned her own gallery in downtown Los Angeles.
As a child in eastern Montana, Coan was fascinated by her hunter-fisherman father's taxidermy collection. A few years ago she began incorporating taxidermy into her artwork. In 2009, she exhibited the first works of her ongoing project, Canary Suicides (www.canarysuicides.com), a series of bird cages depicting fatally despondent canaries at the scenes of their demise. Canary Suicides has shown at galleries such as Lois Lambert Gallery/Gallery of Functional Art, Stremmel Gallery and Bedford Gallery. Coan is currently at work on a new series of installations incorporating taxidermy with gemstones, bird cages, dollhouse furniture, and human furniture.
In the summer of 2012, Coan enrolled in a six-week course for competition-level taxidermy. “I had started working on some bigger installations using life-sized deer. And I realized that I wanted to be doing the taxidermy in my installations and not just purchase it,” she explains. "We learned every step in the process, from salting raw hides for the tannery to detailing noses and creating nictitating membranes. Some people find taxidermy gross, but I think it's fascinating."
Coan holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Washington. When she isn’t teaching or creating three-dimensional stories about doomed birds, she enjoys spending time with her good friend, a blind Chihuahua named Lucy. She lives in Manhattan Beach, California.