Meet your Meats (Keeping with Tradition) by Dana Ellyn
My recent painting “Meet your Meats (Keeping with Tradition)” (oil on canvas, 2017) was first inspired by a photo of my grandmother-in-law affectionally standing in front of a recent set of apple pies she made during a family gathering in the 1950’s. I replaced most of the pies with traditional American food that still relies heavily on a meat-based diet. It is almost as if the traditional meals of the 50’s, when fewer Americans suffered from obesity and food-related illnesses, were healthier, albeit equally ‘meat based’, than today’s. In keeping with ’tradition’, Americans are encouraged to eat meat during family gatherings, even though the meats of this century are more processed and injected with a host of non-disclosed chemicals. Meat today is less healthy and growing more inhumane in some ways as factory farms grow. Thankfully, there is also a growing consciousness about the horrors of the meat industry but meat eating traditions are hard to break. It is obvious through my depiction that I am showing some of the animals as ‘alive’ and walking amongst the dishes in order to break the illusion that eating meat is distanced from killing animals. The family dog pokes his head up to the level of the table to ask, am I next?
Dana Ellyn is a DC resident and full-time painter who lives and paints in her studio in a subsidized artist housing unit in downtown Washington DC. Ellyn committed herself to full-time status in 2002 when she decided to leave her corporate job and pursue painting. Her work is exemplified by a risk-taking vision, strong content, and colorful critiques of social norms. Her work has been featured and collected by DC history buffs, animal rights activists, and a growing number of art enthusiasts around the globe. With recent solo exhibitions in Australia, Spain, and Morocco as well as having a painting featured during a year-long exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Ellyn is one of DC’s most successful rising art stars.Ellyn’s style sits on the fence between social realism and expressionism. Having spent her childhood and college years honing her skills and striving to be technically correct, she’s spent the past 20 years unlearning those restrictive habits. Ellyn strives to infuse more emotion and meaning in to each new painting she creates. She’s currently focusing her energy on creatively asking the question in her paintings; why do we love some animals and eat others?
From childhood until about the age of 30, Ellyn was quiet and reserved. She has since found her voice and she is making up for lost time.
Dreamer by Danny Bilsborough
I hope that this piece can bring a small vegan message into the homes of those that have not yet made the connection. Animals are tagged and branded for a reason, they are property, they have a purpose, a dark purpose that nobody really wants to think about. I wanted to replace their numbers with a compassionate thought, I hope that people might make the connection that these cows should not be oppressed or exploited, they should be loved and it is love in the end that will free them.
I am a self-taught artist in Nova Scotia, Canada with an affinity for animals, I believe all animals big and small have an appreciation for life and a right to live it.
I started my journey with painting in January 2015 after a colorful but brief part time career in the field of face and body art I decided to try my hand on canvas and I have been painting ever since.
My main focus for my art is using bright and vibrant colors to bring animals to life on canvas, I know that all animals have their own unique and colorful personalities and I love to bring it out and displaying it for all to see.
I offer a wide range of prints and original art as well as other household accessories through my website and my Etsy shop.
Dairy is a Mother’s Tears by Twyla Francois
To produce milk, a cow must be kept almost continually pregnant. Her life is an unending cycle of sexual exploitation, deprivation and heartache, having calf after calf taken from her just hours after birth. The bond between a mother and her calf is strong and both mother and baby cry for days after their forced separation.
This painting came about as I was struggling to come to terms with a comment I always get at the end of talks and one that we all see posted on images or videos exposing cruelty in animal agriculture: “I’m going to keep eating animals and animal products but I don’t support abuse “. It always baffles and infuriates me because somehow the message got lost that all animals trapped in the animal agriculture industry – whether factory farm or small scale farm – endure abuse daily. Why do we only recognize a raised fist or a kick as abuse when much more insidious, long-term devastating abuse is overlooked? The forced separation of mother and calf that the dairy industry relies on is a perfect example. We need to stop giving ourselves a cop-out. Animal agriculture is based on ripping families apart, forcing them to exist in unnatural conditions, exploiting their reproductive systems and finally, brutally taking their lives from them. We can talk about all the welfare issues we want but at its heart, animal agriculture relies on completely taking away the freedom – and lives – of animals.
Originally from a small, farming community, I connected with farmed animals from an early age.
I’ve been an animal cruelty investigator for over a decade, working as the Canadian Head of Investigations for international animal advocacy organization Animals’ Angels, Canadian-based organizations Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals and the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition, and most recently as the Director of Investigations for Mercy For Animals Canada where I oversaw the completion and release of seven undercover investigations.
I’ve been fortunate to have a good working relationship with the media who helped provide exposure of the horrors inherent in animal agriculture through investigative pieces, including No Country for Animals (Global National), Bêtes à bord (CBC Radio-Canada), No Country for Horses (CBC National), Food for Thought (CTV W5), Cruel Business (CTV W5), Behind the Barn Door (CTV W5) and These Little Piggies (CTV W5).
All of my work – investigative and artistic – seeks to challenge our basic beliefs about farmed animals and foster a sense of compassion for all animals.
Ruin VI by Hartmut Kiewert
My ruin series shows abandoned slaughterhouses and stables with so called farm animals walking freely in front of them. This series belong to a bigger series called Utopia, which is showing different perspectives of a world in which animal exploitation belongs to the past and animal liberation has become reality. Ruin VI specifically shows a former production place for dairy products of the German dairy company Müller. The big cow in front of the ruin is Colorida, a former diary cow that is now living at farm animal sanctuary Hof Butenland in the north of Germany. A calf is walking beside her, to point out that no industry is longer separate the animal families and friendships, as it is the brutal reality of today’s animal farming.
Hartmut Kiewert was born 1980 in the city of Koblenz/Germany. From an early age on, the contradictions of the human-animal-relationship were one of the first things he felt were wrong in human society. However, he was told by his parents that eating animals was natural and necessary for health reasons. Therefore, only very much later did he come to the point to successively give up eating or using products of animal exploitation. This started when he moved to his first own flat and turned vegetarian in the year 2000.
Always loving to draw – plus seeing how destructive work for the sake of profit is – Hartmut did not want to spend his life on some regular 9 to 5 job. So he decided to do what he loved most and which seemed to bring as much free space and time as possible under capitalistic circumstances. In 2003 he took up his studies of fine art at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design at Halle (Saale)/Germany. He received his diploma with honors in 2010.
Being influenced by the ideas of anarchism and critical theory, he was always doing political stuff besides his studies. This included amongst others information seminars on alternatives to capitalism and structures of hierarchy and dominion as well as direct actions against GMO, militarism, fascism and atomic energy.
Wanting to combine his artwork and his political activity, Hartmut began to dedicate his paintings and drawings to the critical reflection on human-animal-relationship in 2008. His aim was – and still is – to break through the suppression of the violent aspects of this relationship and raise awareness for the interests of non human animals. To point out the interconnection between the structure of oppression of animals/nature and oppression of humans is important to him. The start of focusing on this was also the point when he eventually turned strictly vegan.
In the last few years Hartmut’s work was shown in several solo and group exhibitions around Germany, for instance in Hamburg, Berlin, Dortmund and Leipzig. Beside regular exhibitions in art-spaces he also contributes artwork to vegan events like Vegan Street Day. For this purpose he envolved the technique of painting on pe-tarp, which is weatherproof and thus can be installed outdoors as well. Hartmut also showed his paintings on conferences like the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg at the Critical Animal Studies Conference in Prague.
In 2012, Compassion Media published his book mensch_tier (human_animal), featuring his art – and theoretical work (for now only available in German language).
In fall a new book with his work titled ANIMAL UTOPIA – perspectives of a new human animal relationship will be published at the same publishing house. This time the texts in the book will be in German and English. A crowd funding campaign for financing the production of this book will be launched soon.
He lives and works in Leipzig/Germany. Visit his website here.
Elephants Don’t Paint by Jodi Thomas
‘Elephants don’t paint’ is the title of this acrylic on canvas image. This piece reflects the fractured existence of captive elephants. The elephant has both male and female attributes and is disjointed, blinded and broken emotionally and physically. With this piece I wanted the viewer to feel the emotional trauma that elephants experience as a result of human encroachment and influence on their lives. The elephant is a victim of circumstance. Our human greed has orchestrated their living nightmare.
I make art to help fight depression and stay sane. I feel it is my duty to make art as I was lucky to be given this gift and I must make good use of it. For many years I took my gift for granted and did not put my ability to good use.
I am an empath as well as an Animal Activist. My head and heart are heavy with the knowledge of extreme abuses inflicted upon innocent beings.
I have worked for elephants for over 13 years and have witnessed and learned much that disturbs me deeply. Things are not always as nice behind the scenes as they are advertised – to put it lightly. In my opinion an animal’s well-being should be considered first and foremost but sadly big business mentality often gets in the way. It is always the animal that pays the price. Being immersed in this environment can be very emotionally draining. After many, many years of complete devotion to elephant care, not allowing much time for painting or other art mediums, I became overwhelmed and disillusioned. My memory bank was overflowing with horrific images, sounds and stories. I could not take any more.
Out of desperation I once again turned to painting. Coinciding with this period was a chance meeting with the incredible Vegan Artist/Activist Sue Coe. She was just the inspiration I needed at this time. She was a reminder that my art didn’t have to be pretty and didn’t have to please everyone all the time. I had so many stories to tell, so many images in my head that needed to be released.
Art making is a healthy outlet for me. Now that I am back to honouring the Artist within me, I realise how important it is to make sure that being creative is a daily practice, one I cannot do without. Making art keeps me in balance and revitalizes me.
I decide what I will create next rather impulsively. Whatever seems to need to get out the most urgently is what comes next. I try not to plan too much, I want it to just come out organically and emotionally raw. I try to evoke the feelings I absorb onto the canvas or other substrates with mixed mediums. I have learned to enjoy the process, not have any expectations and work intuitively.
Born in 1964 in Detroit Michigan, Jodi Thomas is a mainly self-taught artist.
In 1989 she began a tattoo apprenticeship under Suzanne Fauser of Creative Tattoo in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1992 she opened her own shop, Ink for Life Tattoo Studio in Ypsilanti Michigan which was in operation for 19 years.
Always a lover of animals and nature, around 1996 she read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation which prompted her to go vegetarian (and later vegan) and turn towards Animal Activism.
Early artistic inspiration came from underground comic artists, psychedelic rock poster art, Japanese wood block prints, Georgia O’Keefe, Vali Myers, Judy Chicago, Susan Seddon Boulet, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst among others.
For many years the responsibility of tattooing full time and caring for many companion animals, left virtually no time for recreational/therapeutic art making. In the year 2000 she journeyed to Raiatea, an island in the south Pacific for a tattoo convention. This experience was very enlightening and brought out a desire to travel more. In January of 2001 she ventured to Thailand, Burma and Cambodia – a trip that would change her life.
After multiple trips back to Southeast Asia, she finally settled outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2003 and for the next 13 years devoted her life to caring for captive elephants who were handicapped, blind, orphaned or mentally unstable. When time was available she painted images of elephants, mostly in acrylics on canvas and auctioned them to help raise funds to support their care. During this time, writing became her primary creative outlet. She wrote stories about the elephants whom she lived with for a newsletter and for activity updates for foster programs. She found that she greatly enjoyed ‘painting a picture with words’. Sporadic tattooing was her primary source of income. She lived a simple life in a small bamboo hut, with elephants being her primary focus.
In 2015 depression and disillusionment with her surroundings weighed heavily on her heart. To cope with these emotions, she returned to the brush and canvas. A fateful meeting with vegan Artist/Activist Sue Coe was a critical turning point during this time. Another critical influence at this time was good friend and fellow artist Lily Cheung. Visiting Lily’s place on the weekends and being surrounded by her art inspired Jodi to want to paint again. Lily encouraged her to start painting in her space each weekend.
Since that time Jodi has not stopped creating. Thanks to Lily and Sue, Jodi’s passion for expressing herself creatively has been fully reignited; the flame now burns bright. She has created more works of art in the past two years than in all year’s previous combined (not counting tattoos).
Her most recent artistic influences are vast; from Picasso, Van Gogh, Marc Chagall, the Abstract Expressionists, Kathe Kollwitz, Frida Kahlo, Emily Carr … and … there are many current artists she has discovered via social media who have been a big part of her recent artistic growth including Amy Maricle, Mystele Kirkeeng, Whitney Freya, Connie Solera, Lisa Sonora, Deb Rolig, and Tracy Verdugo.
Deeply influenced by nature and animals, Jodi hopes to accomplish with her art a sense of understanding, awareness and empathy for all creatures’ great and small as well as our blessed Mother Earth. She works on found wood board (often trod upon by elephants), canvas, press board and a variety of papers. She works primarily in acrylics but enjoys collage, mixed media, drawing and many other mediums.
Her work graces the walls of animal lovers the world over, though she has yet to be included in any exhibitions.
Follow Jodi on Instagram @jodesignseleart
Monkey Madness by Claude Jones
This image began to formulate in my mind following an article I read about violence amongst primates, particularly chimpanzees. It seems our closest ancestral cousins are much more violent than other mammals, although they are certainly no match for human violence. Humans are exceptional in this department – exceptionally violent to each other, towards other animals and frequently, en masse. In terms of our ethics towards other living beings, it seems we have not evolved very far.
As with most of my work, I have created anthropomorphised figures as the perpetrators, in this case to draw a parallel between apes and human. The image suggests an historic and ongoing battle. Various cultures and historic periods are referenced in the foreground whilst the background wallpaper of bombs references the more industrialized violence of contemporary war.
The soft colours, decorative elements, and the incongruously gentle faces of the various primates in the scene, belie the violent subject matter of the image. It is as if the primates don’t really want to hurt each other. Perhaps they are on the precipice of making a compassionate choice?
Ultimately Monkey Madness suggests both the insanity of violence and the possibility of compassion. Human beings have the ability to choose to live compassionately yet the majority still hold onto violent traditions of the past. In the current 21st century age of readily accessible information, it seems now more than ever we have an opportunity to evolve, yet how much are we evolving?
Claude divides her time between Munich and Sydney where she creates hybrid, mutant and anthropomorphised sculptures and mixed media 2D works that question our complex and contradictory relationship with other animals and with ourselves.
Originating in New Zealand, Claude has travelled extensively, studying, teaching, undertaking residency programs and exhibiting in Australia and abroad. She is currently a sessional academic in Printmaking at The National Art School in Sydney. The artist has been a finalist in numerous art awards, winning the “Moreton Bay Art Prize” in 2011 and the “Its Liquid” International art prize, in 2012. Her works are represented in many public and private collections including Artbank, The Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Rhode Island School of Design Museum in the U.S.A.