Since the beginning of mankind, humans have shared an intimate relationship with animals—tender and caring yet violent and self serving. Historically, animals have proven essential to the survival of humans; their meat provided our food, their bones our instruments and their skins our clothing and shelter. Our childhoods are filled with cartoon and plush animals that we cherish and adore. But in our postmodern culture, a more menacing relationship has emerged between humans and animals. No longer does the struggle for survival fuel man’s pursuit of these majestic creatures, but rather a seemingly narcissistic exhilaration compels the compulsive hunter.
‘goodbye animals’ began with a curiosity as to how the psychology of hunting has changed from necessity to sport over time. It has evolved into a series of reactive illustrations that journey through the primitive history and modern day of six animals. Using ink and a collage format, the illustrations tell these animals’ stories in a visual narrative.
We all carry stories. The experiences that we have, and our memories of them, are what make us who we are. What are the experiences of these nearly extinct or endangered animals? If they could tell their stories what would they say? Would we even listen? ‘goodbye animals’ serves as a testament to these animals from the perspective of an artist who also knows how it feels to be objectified and hunted.
The desires that motivate the compulsive hunter nowadays differ from the need driven actions of the Paleolithic hunter – especially with Big Game animals. Just as a serial killer or rapist would take something from their victim, the safari hunter often takes a trophy from his prey. The head or skin are preserved for display in the home as a permanent symbol of their accomplishment. I asked myself, how could I create art that could hang in the place of these animals and tell their stories while still giving the viewer a hunt? ‘goodbye animals’ uses ink to fill in the physiognomy of each of these endangered animals with their stories: historical anecdotes, childhood relics, ritualistic lore, famous animals, habitat facts, cultural references, etc. This series aims to educate and engage the viewer and to inspire a dialogue about endangered animals. The longer that one looks at each drawing, the more information their eyes will begin to uncover. The final product seeks to serve as a different kind of the trophy, an alternative to the hunting and killing of these animals via a symbolic representation of them as art.
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I hope these drawings aren't just passively viewed but are engaged with. The longer you look the more your eyes will uncover. What do you see? Share what catches your eye. I hope to create a dialogue with viewers and to gather responses. Each will have the chance for your discoveries/initial impressions to be featured in an upcoming show and online. Thank you!