Hear Her Story - Q&A With
Meaghan Herbert Jodoin '06
1. Where did you go to school after The Elms? Are there any special accomplishments or experiences there that you would like to share?
After the Elms I attended Kent State University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) with a concentration in printmaking. While there I fell in love with the various processes that traditional printmaking involves such as intaglio, litography and screen printing. Trust me, printmaking does tie into taxidermy, at least for me! To achieve my concentration I created a large body of work that was presented and reviewed by my advisors as a gallery show. I have always had a love of medical and anatomical diagrams as well as an affinity for fantasy creatures. For my thesis I developed an anatomy book of imagined hybrid creatures. The show was comprised of 13, 18 x 24 inch pages that made up this book as well as a hand bound copy. It was an immense undertaking, and took a year to complete, but the response and experience I received from my first gallery show was absolutely amazing!
2. Where did you start your career? What are you doing now?
I started my career path like many do, in retail working in pet shops and copy centers. When I moved to a new city, I took a chance and walked into a taxidermy studio and submitted my resume. I told myself that I know my animal anatomy, I have an art degree, so I can do this. When I submitted my resume I handed it to a nice man at the bait shop counter that made up the store front wearing a butcher's apron as the owner was not in. We chatted for a bit and I headed back out. The owner called me and it turned out she was also a fine artist who worked in oil painting. Now I have been working as a taxidermist at Kulis Freeze Dry for the past five years. My favorite part is being able to create teaching specimens for local parks and school districts as it allows me to work up close with animals I normally wouldn't have a chance to. It has also given me the experience to improve my skills as an artist and given me a better understanding of animal anatomy.
Freeze drying is my specialty as it allows for an accurate representation and preservation of a specimen. With park specimens I don't know how long the animal has been sitting and I am constantly working against time. With freeze drying I don't have to spend the time in prepping the specimens as with conventional taxidermy. (For example birds will start to lose feathers and no one wants a bunch of naked birds, even if they do look like pink dinosaurs.)
I also get to work with disaster restoration services. We not only repair taxidermy damaged in fire and floods but sometimes I get to work with archives and libraries to salvage books and documents.
3. What are your hobbies?
When I am not working, I'm still working. I spend my free time working in my home studio on my artwork. While I mostly work in water colors and colored pencils now (it allows me the ability to travel with the supplies), I do have a small printing press. I am a vendor at various pop-up marts and am constantly applying and showing in different galleries as an artist. I have volunteered in the past with Rubber City Prints, working as staff and as an instructor. They are a non-profit printmaking community located in Akron. I had a wonderful time teaching fun and simple printmaking projects with the community. I encourage anyone interested in learning more about them to look them up!
4. In March, you were a speaker for the Elms Career Day. What are the messages you were trying to deliver to the students that day?
For my career day message, I wanted the girls to know that every experience is a learning one. From shark dissections with Mrs. Kermizis in biology class, learning lino-cuts and etching on plexiglass with Mrs. Winslow in art class, to part time jobs and volunteering, all have helped me be the artist and taxidermist I am today. These experiences help you discover what you are passionate about.
5. Is there anything special that you learned or want to share about the time you spent at the Elms for Career Day?
While taxidermy was originally a male dominated trade, there are so many girls today who find the career fascinating. I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to some other alumnae share their stories and remain impressed by the Elms' ability to send intelligent and confident ceiling breakers out into the world. If any student is interested in taxidermy, Kulis Freeze Dry loves to work with Career Days and provide shadowing experiences. I encourage students to reach out to us.
6. What does an Elms education mean to you?
I came from a co-ed Catholic elementary school in Barberton and we had the awesome opportunity to visit different high schools in the area. When we toured the Elms, I knew I wanted to attend. The small class size, the wonderful attitude of the teachers and staff, and the general optimistic atmosphere instantly won me over. I still have close friends that I stay in contact with and look forward to attending alumnae events. Attending the Elms is a one of a kind of experience that is beneficial in figuring out who you are and where you want to go.