Nature as art

Monday February 24 2014


Nick Shelton’s love of wildlife and nature shows up in his artwork, which includes sculpture, drawing, and taxidermy.

A senior art major with a minor in environmental science, Nick started his own business, Artist Pointe Taxidermy, as a freshman at LC. The Gretna, Virginia native has hunted and fished his whole life, but he had never preserved his trophies himself until he attended the John Rinehart Taxidermy Institute in Janesville, Wisconsin the summer after high school graduation. That prepared him to launch his own business.

“It was an interesting first two months in Mont (Montgomery Hall),” Nick said, recalling the challenges of adjusting to college and researching and ordering the equipment and supplies he needed to launch a business.

With the demands of college, Nick says it takes him about a year to prepare the local fish and game his customers bring him, but they are usually not in a rush. “I’m building up a right nice clientele,” he said, but added he sees taxidermy as a sideline, not a full-time job.

While not everyone condones hunting, Nick said it’s necessary to maintain healthy populations of some species, like white-tailed deer, but not so long ago it was also necessary to eat. “Being able to know what you’re eating is very different from going to the grocery store and picking up the first thing you see,” he said.

For Nick, taxidermy is a medium of art. “All my art is either nature or environment-based,” he said. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved drawing and playing with clay.”

Nick says he has his sights on a master’s in art and might want to teach at the college level. While he has loved his science classes, Nick said his professors know he is better suited to art. “They’ve seen all my doodles,” he said.