I began sculpting when I was thirteen years old. It was originally just loose animals and such: a malnourished tabby cat wandering across the street, a raccoon noisily feasting in a garbage bin. I would pick them up, strangle them, and then sculpt them.
Sculpting involved basic taxidermy technique (learned from my dear father), shaving off the fur, and coating the carcass in paint. They really did look quite good.
Now, it is important to note here that I have no artistic talent whatsoever. I have always loved a good painting; the works of van Eyck and Caravaggio never fail to floor me. But every time I have tried replicating the grand technique of the masters, the results have been unsatisfactory.
My seventh grade art teacher realized this, too. I remember I turned in a painting of my house, entitled “Home is Where the Heartlessness Is” (painted in grayscale, of course), and I received a C-.
Now, I understand that it was a bad painting. But I tried extremely hard to make it good, and I deserved a better grade than that. I was furious, and I knew I had to extract revenge on this teacher somehow.
I waited for two hours after school for her to leave. I followed her maroon Nissan on my royal blue Schwinn bicycle until she arrived at her house. My goal was simple; to get the family bunny.
She talked about it all the time.
“I love painting portraits of my cute bunny, Mr. Whiskers,” she would say. “He has this beautiful brown coat that looks grand when the light reflects off of it.”
By nightfall, when the last of the lights went out, I snuck in through an open window in the kitchen. The bunny was in the living room to the right. I snatched it out of its cage and put it in my backpack. By the time I got home, it had asphyxiated. This made me glad, as my least favorite part of the sculpting process was hurting the poor creatures.
I did the necessary process, and shaved off its brown coat (which really was quite pretty-I have most of it saved in a bag in my closet). It took me a while to decide what color to paint it, but I eventually decided on dark red, to symbolize the woman’s Nissan.
I turned in the sculpture two weeks later, mounted on a wooden board.
“Oh, Bartholomew, it’s beautiful,” she exclaimed. “The features are remarkably realistic. We lost our bunny Mr. Whiskers a few weeks ago, and-”
She was tearing up by now.
“-we don’t know what happened to him.”
There was a long pause before she spoke again.
“Do you mind if I keep this sculpture, to remember him by?”
I didn’t mind at all.
Soon, I was recognized as a child prodigy, one of the greatest sculptors in America. For years, I was perfectly content with only doing animals, but everyone asked me, all the time-
“Can you do humans?”
At this point, dear reader, I want to make it clear that I never wanted to sculpt humans. I always considered that a step too far. But my audience wanted it, and I couldn’t let them down, could I?
My first piece was an elderly man who was loading shopping carts at the local Walmart. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but he was obviously a bit senile, so it was no challenge luring him into my van, nor was it a challenge to wrap my hands around his frail, old neck.
It was a difficult decision what color to paint him, but I eventually decided to do none at all. I figured that, by leaving him uncolored, I could better showcase my talent for detail. For a while, I was a bit scared of whether or not someone would recognize him, but then again, I hadn’t even seen a missing persons report on TV.
That sculpture now sits in the Whitney Museum of American Art.
As a matter of fact, many of my pieces now sit in the Whitney Museum of American Art. A whole exhibit, to be exact.
There are thirty sculptures in the exhibit, both humans and animals, and my audience is in awe.
“They’re so realistic,” I often hear them say.
Some of them are painted, and some of them are not, but nobody seems to notice anything off. So far, not one person has recognized one of the sculptures as being the real thing.
My personal favorite would have to be the skinned man, his muscle fully exposed, his face contorted in pain.
“This piece represents how open our lives are to the rest of the world,” wrote ArtReview magazine in their December 2016 issue. “The exposed muscle shows our vulnerability, and his face seems to show him facing harsh reality for the first time in his life.”
However, the centerpiece to the exhibit is undoubtedly Tana Talua, the fallen star.
In case you didn’t know, Tana Talua was, for a few years, the most popular musician on the planet. Several very successful songs.
I loved them. They were so much fun to listen to. I loved her lifestyle, with all the glitz and glamour. The pink hair and neon dresses. She deserved a fitting tribute, and I soon decided that I would be the one to make it.
It was so easy. All I had to do was dress up in a police officer’s outfit, wait at an autograph signing, and tell her bodyguards that I was her police escort. That’s it!
For several months, the media was in a frenzy. Headlines reading “What Happened to Tana?” and “Tana Talua Rumored Dead” became commonplace. I knew I had to wait a while to release my sculpture, as this time there was a chance that people would become suspicious. I decided to leave her as she was: tape over mouth, eyes fearful, and bullet through the head. My audience would find it much more powerful like that.
Three years on, the sculpture is now considered to be my greatest masterpiece. Interpretations have ranged from “the perils of stardom” to “a requiem for a lost icon who, through his imagery, the artist supposes as having met with a horrible demise.” Whatever it is, it sure has worked out well. That sculpture made the cover of Time.
I think my next series will celebrate diversity. Many different families from all over the world. It will show how they live, their differences and their similarities. It will be many sculptures, well over a hundred, easily. But, I need not fret too much. I make millions of dollars selling and showcasing my work, and my audience adores me.