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How to Make Cowhide Art Yourself

When it comes to cowhide, each piece is different. Depending on its shape and texture, each piece can be made into an absolutely beautiful work of art. This is because cowhide is a natural material, and each piece is handmade. Here are some ideas on how to make cowhide art yourself:

Nandipha Mntambo

Cowhide artist Nandipha Mntambo never considered a career in art before. She grew up in apartheid-era South Africa, where she and her family lived in white communities. She explored issues related to identity and the fluidity of persona. She began to learn about painting and cowhide art as a way to express her innermost feelings.

Mntambo’s cowhide sculptures are a testament to her skill and the transforming power of cowhide. She begins the creative process by purchasing raw cowhide from a slaughterhouse and using her own body as a mold. The finished cowhide sculptures resemble figures that move, suggesting a relationship with the animal. These artists’ pieces negotiate the presence of skin and explore social and racial ambiguity.

The artist also sees her works as a symbol of an identity crisis. While defining identity in human terms, Mntambo’s works go beyond cultural determinism and explore the biological aspect of humanity. She challenges constructivism by making animals into human-like beings. She emphasizes the importance of human-animal relations and the role of art in the creation of identities.

Anneliese Schrenk

Anneliese Schrenk creates artworks from thick, tanned cowhides, displaying them on stretcher frames. She processes the hides with painterly marks and cuts, forming images out of the predetermined structures of the material. Her work explores the idea of the skin as a delimiter and connector of forms. Her techniques make use of thick, discarded cowhide castoffs and defective leather material. She finds beauty in this processed flesh, making it both an artistic medium and a source of income.

The finished pieces, in which the artist has created a mask, are displayed as if they were paintings. In reality, the cowhide was destroyed during manufacturing due to improper placement of glue. Schrenk’s process involves carefully peeling off the layers of the cowhide to reveal the pattern. The finished pieces, however, are beautiful and luxurious. And they can be purchased for a fraction of their original cost.

While her works are incredibly striking and highly original, they are difficult to categorize. Schrenk’s works seem to defy any strict classification into one artistic genre. Her cow hide artworks are equally capable of being categorized as painting, sculpture, and drawing. Their materiality negates the traditional ideas of art and creates an interesting ambiguity. Visitors are encouraged to stop and consider the piece for a while.

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