Property peep show: A taxidermist's paradise in Fort Greene

Take a tour inside taxidermist Divya Anantharaman’s Brooklyn abode, filled with flea-market finds, anatomical oddities and, of course, stuffed furry creatures

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  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    Taxidermist Divya Anantharaman, 30, spends her days surrounded by stuffed critters and anatomical curiosities. The sun-drenched Fort Greene apartment she shares with her fiancé is a showcase for the objects she curates and collects—and a playground for her cat, Fugazi.

    "It is aesthetically and physically beautiful seeing how life once worked," says Anantharaman. "When I was really young, I watched a lizard crawl into the bug zapper—he died this crazy electric death, his eyes flashing. After that, I was always curious about the feeling of being sad about something dying. It’s a uniquely human experience."

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    Ample natural light casts a soft glow on neutral furnishings, punctuated by a pop of green from thriving succulents, ferns and palms. Much of the apartment’s furnishings hail from flea markets and estate sales. "The oddities world has blown up now," she says. "When I started collecting this stuff, it was garbage. No one likes it when their scene blows up, but I'm glad that people are curious."

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    Anantharaman’s bookshelves came from a man who sells reclaimed barn wood online. "When I asked if he’d build them, he was like, 'You want furniture made out of this shit?' He cut all of the pieces and sent everything unassembled, Ikea-style," she says. "I love that it is utilitarian, but also warm-looking—not too girly, not too masculine."

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    The mementos in Anantharaman’s eclectic library feel like a three-dimensional journal; each object has its own story. Here, one of her early stuffed mice shares shelf space with a dried turkey foot, pressed butterflies from a shuttered natural history museum, a giraffe skull and a partial rabbit pelt. About the bunny she says, "I found that guy as roadkill and he was too far gone, so I mummified, dried and salted just his face."

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    Anantharaman is adamant about using only animals that died naturally, like this stillborn fawn, freeze-dried in the ’80s. "Would you rather that animal died in vain," she asks, "or have it to look at, to study, to contemplate your own mortality?"

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    Anantharaman is a former shoe designer who left the fashion industry last year to turn her taxidermy hobby into a full-fledged career, teaching classes at the Morbid Anatomy Museum and selling her work on Etsy. "I made one of these for my best friend on a whim, but then everyone wanted one," she says. "At the end of the day, plants are going to grow over all of us; this is a pretty way of coming to terms with that."

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    "I bought this bobcat from a super surly dude—one of those people who was having a garage sale but didn’t really want to sell anything," says Anantharaman. "Twice a year, I take everything outside to treat for bugs and spray it all down right on the sidewalk. Kids will ask, 'Is that a saber-toothed tiger?'"

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    "If you want to learn about something, you should collect it," says Anantharaman. "Your collection should look like you." The ornate fireplaces in both the living room and bedroom of her 1920s apartment provide the perfect display area for her treasures. In the bedroom, a framed family photo and a book she found on the street mingle with a client’s two-headed fetal pig, which she’s housed for the past few months.

  • Photograph: Rayon Richards

    This two-headed fetal pig (and a one-eyed fetal pig floating in another jar nearby) was once part of a prominent Coney Island entertainer's collection. For the past few months, it has occupied prime real estate on Anantharaman's bedroom mantle. "It's really cool," she says, "but I don't collect much stuff in jars."

Photograph: Rayon Richards

Taxidermist Divya Anantharaman, 30, spends her days surrounded by stuffed critters and anatomical curiosities. The sun-drenched Fort Greene apartment she shares with her fiancé is a showcase for the objects she curates and collects—and a playground for her cat, Fugazi.

"It is aesthetically and physically beautiful seeing how life once worked," says Anantharaman. "When I was really young, I watched a lizard crawl into the bug zapper—he died this crazy electric death, his eyes flashing. After that, I was always curious about the feeling of being sad about something dying. It’s a uniquely human experience."


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