Skip to main content

Arts District: The love story of a taxidermist and a gardener

Email share

He does the dead things. She does the live things.

"When I first started doing this-- I started doing this when I was little. I used to go to greenhouses all the time with my mom. She would let me pick out all the flowers I found on the floor. I remember I was walking and I saw this half deer face and it had plants coming out of it, and that's when I started incorporating live plants. This is amazing. It's just so cool to see this creature taken by the earth again and new life sprouting out of it. That's where the whole idea of plants and bones came in," Amber Hageail said.

Hageail and Ian Johnson met three years ago. Amber gifted Ian a creation she had made.
Back then it was more simple. A small skull and some rocks.

"I don't really think it's spooky. I think it's beautiful because it really encompasses the processes of decay and regrowth in our products," she said.

He grew up in Colorado hunting and fishing in the mountains. "When I found out I could start giving Amber bones and skulls instead of bouquets of flowers, I think that's really how I won her heart...through the dead things," said Johnson.

You can see why they're together.

All the pieces symbolize Amber's life experiences. She tries to recreate those through her work.
She thinks about the textures and colors and how things will grow over time fo fill the piece. He thinks about all the functional aspects of things like adequate drainage.

They admit this is not glamorous work but it's fun.

Terrorium is located at 3611 W. 49th Ave Denver.