I opened the New York Times today and discovered a video on Zoos in America. Last week’s Times featured a front page article on the commonalities between human animal diseases and non human animal diseases. Apparently, other species suffer from many of the same psychological and physical diseases as we do and veterinarians are being asked to chime in on human conditions with their solutions. PBS just broadcast two powerful documentaries on the connection we have with dogs and cats (Shelter Me and Why We Love Dogs and Cats.)
I am so heartened by the growing interest in what we share in common with other species. There is a long way to go but social change takes time.
I am so happy to see the mainstream media start to venture into what in past years would have seemed the dangerous zone of anthropomorphizing. I keep envisioning it becoming more profound – nightly newscasters showing animals needing adoption, or weather forecasters mentioning that people should slow down on the roads because of salamander migrations and animals coming out of hibernation or babies being born who don’t know about cars…or of the devastation on our psyche, on the environment, on the unlucky animals in factory farms which wouldn’t exist without our tax subsidies and being far away from most of our viewing. (Factory farms have just lobbied to make it illegal for photographers or videographers to enter their facilities). With every day, I hope to bring this into focus through whatever means I have as an artist.
The One Language Project – The photographs I am taking and the accompanying essays by the owners, will be expanding for use in an App for the ipad and for viewing on the website with hyperlinks and infographics. Check out the page and consider commissioning a portrait of your dog to be used in the installations or donating to the project. This public art project is a powerful way to put other species in front of us and show our interconnections across species divides through the one language of emotion we all share.
The questions I’m including in the next installation June 22nd of One Language: For the Love of Dogs:
“What would we do differently if we referred to all other individuals in other species as a someone instead of a something? Should we be drawing lines or should we instead by drawing circles?”
Next year, maybe cows, or cats, or ferrets or parrots or pigs? Our longing for connection with other species is that longing we have for touch, voice, relationship, belonging. Maybe it is as close as your yard, your rooftop, your living room. There is someone who needs you to listen – whether the cardinal at your window, the dog at your side, the elephants fighting for survival, or your neighbor next door, hidden from view in loneliness and struggle. We are all animals with similar needs and great capacity for bringing joy.