I recently discovered the wonderful blog, Vegan Activist. I was disappointed when I found out that the author, J, is spending less time blogging and more time making art these days. Then I saw J’s soulful, inspired art and understood.
J uses art to raise awareness about animal rights and was happy to share about this on my blog. Here’s the scoop:
Animal Art as Activism
I’m J, an artist living in rural Québec, in the heart of maple syrup country, on a small property with my partner and two rescued cats. I’ve been drawing and painting since I was two, and have decided recently to make something of myself as a visual artist. I’m a full-time baker and I have a large veganic garden too, so I tend the garden in the spring and summer, and work on my art when it’s cold and the garden is asleep.
I paint with professional quality acrylics on panels made with recuperated wood, or with canvas salvaged from second hand stores. I’ve also gotten back into watercolours lately with Colors of Nature, a new range of vegan paints that are non-toxic and environmentally responsible.
So what does my art have to do with veganism? Apart from being vegan myself, and seeking out supplies that are vegan and environmentally friendly, my art often focuses on free-living animals. I portray them with the same dignity and passion as my human subjects, and choose images where the animal is returning the gaze of the viewer. The subject gazes back with intelligence and soulfulness, demanding to be seen as a subject and not an object.
I often portray individuals belonging to endangered species, raising awareness of the threats to their existence posed by human interference. My portrait of Tatango, a bonobo who lived and died in a bonobo orphanage in the Congo, was displayed in a gallery in February, and I was able to talk to reporters who had never heard of these primate cousins of ours.
Bonobos are as closely related to us as are chimpanzees, yet they live much more peaceably, negotiating social relations with sexual contact rather than coercion. They show us other possibilities than the hierarchy and violence that we claim is “just in our nature” – while we are killing off these long-lost relatives with civil war, habitat destruction and poaching. I will be sending 10% of the sale of that painting to the bonobo sanctuary and another 10% to an organization working for peace and food security in the region.
Beauty and sadness exist side-by-side when contemplating these citizens of rapidly-vanishing ecosystems. I hope my art can resonate, can reach people’s hearts and awaken in them a greater sense of responsibility and concern for what happens to these animals and their habitats.
My art reflects my passions and my interests, and the human figure is another of my fascinations. I would enjoy making a painting – or a series – of nude vegan bodies, so if you would like to be immortalized (by yourself, or with a friend or lover) and are willing to send photos for me to work from, please be in touch. I can’t pay for models but would be pleased to send a signed print of the finished work if I choose your photo. Interested? vegan dot seeds at gmail dot com.