Reserved & Deserved which was funded by the Culture and Animals Foundation as one of their 2019 grant projects, regarding animal welfare in northern remote communities in Canada. The series for this grant consists of a book I wrote (publishing date to be announced) to tell the story of when I lived in Shamattawa First Nation, MB, in 2016, with photography and acrylic paintings to portray the dogs, their puppies, and living situations in the north. As the book outlines, I was a volunteer art teacher in the northern fly-in community which led to me not only supporting community members, but also a pack of stray and semi-domesticated dogs. Human-animal conflict is common in remote communities due to the lack of resources for veterinary care, which leads to overpopulation, aggression, starvation, disease, and an overall unhealthy environment for both community members and the dogs. I organized a total of six adult dogs and thirteen puppies to be flown out to Winnipeg over the course of a year to receive needed veterinary care, and to be adopted with the wonderful help of Save a Dog Network Canada (SADN), a non-profit rescue in Winnipeg.
These paintings reflect the complexities at work in the far north in First Nation regions and to benefit SADN through increased education, awareness, and their continued communication with communities they keep in contact with. Through the assistance of volunteers and donations, SADN has managed to keep in touch with those in northern communities to bring pet food, offer free spay/neuter clinics, vet care and vaccinations, education, and to rehome hundreds of animals in need. I hope that this small step to increase community engagement and compassionate assistance, led by the needs of the First Nation community, can be a step towards Reconciliation in the Canadian north.
The Garden Party series was created in regards to Factory and Fur Farming in Canada. Every day thousands and thousands of animals are trucked for hours, or days, to be sent to slaughter. After spending years confined behind metal bars in dark, unclean facilities, cows, chickens, pigs, and many others are sent away for their lives to end, in fear and distress, after having lived a life full of distraught, violence, and abuse. Many of the animals are just babies themselves when their lives are cruelly ended - male chicks are ground up, burned, or suffocated only hours after being born because they are useless. Piglets and calves suffer a similar fate, imprisoned in darkness, when they should be with their mothers. Male calves are often kept in small, dark spaces, where they cannot move and are fed a low amount of formula, while they cry for their mothers, only to be turned into veal after a few weeks of "living." The females are bred to have one offspring after another, only to have each baby dragged away before they can barely walk, to produce milk for human consumption.
Animals used on fur farms live lives of misery as well. Foxes, mink, rabbits, and others are bred and kept captive within small metal cages, just a little bigger than a shoe box. These animals can barely move in individual cages, or are crammed in with dozens of others with lack of nutritious food, water, space, bedding, and often result to aggression and cannibalism. Their paws and legs are raw and torn from the cold metal, and some foxes and mink are raised to be purposely fed more only to have more fur to sell to fashion companies. This forced obesity causes physical deformities as well as numerous health issues. Salmon farms, although they may have slightly more space to swim, suffer as well, due to lack of room, poor food, and they are also bred for size.
These paintings have been painted in raw canvas and hand-sewn with hemp to represent fashion as well as the hangings of hides and skins. The animals chosen have been painted with bold colours and pastels to symbolize the anguish they suffer and the hope for a more respectful future for farmed animals. They disappear into the background with a mixture of beauty and red flecks. I hope that viewers see these paintings as more than just artworks of farm animals. I believe that all beings deserve respect and kindness, and Canada needs to improve the livelihood and laws for animal rights. Compassion should be enforced and should not be a crime for those who aim to help those who cannot speak our language - yet, they are deserving of a more harmonious life.
Proceeds from each painting sold will be donated to the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals to support the work they do:
"I dream of a world in which people learn to live in place and harmony with each other and with the natural world." - Dr. Jane Goodall
"A Lost Memory: The Endangered Species Project" BFA Thesis 2010-2011 These paintings were accompanied with poetry describing the dwindling numbers of species along with some that have recovered. I aimed for the artwork to have an emotional impact on the viewer while the species emerge and disappear within their atmospheric space.