Prayers for the wild at heart

I made two more paintings in the circus series to replace the two that have sold (the monkey and the giraffe), but then one of the new ones plus an older one (the elephant) sold so now I need to make more. Not that I’m complaining.

Self-Explanatory. Mixed media, 2011.

I focused on the tricks that the animals are made to perform because they are just as disgusting to me as the physical abuse so prevalent in circuses that include wild animals. It’s degrading. I’ve never understood the desire to kill, cage, or otherwise possess something you find beautiful. Don’t you love it or find it interesting because of what it is, and can you not see how possession changes it?

Detail from Self-Explanatory.

Sorry about the poorly shot photos. I kept forgetting to do it, and then ended up rushing. Since I’m interested in eventually producing prints, I’ll have to be more deliberate. For these two, as before, I used second hand frames from local thrift stores.

Obedience. Mixed media, 2011.

The amusing thing about all of this is that I tried a bunch of other things in an effort to earn some money, thinking that selling “public friendly” paintings or drawings could not possibly work for me. None of those other endeavors really amounted to much, or gave me the same level of satisfaction as making these paintings. If I can keep it up (EF wants me to have work there every 3-4 months), then this is certainly a viable option.

Detail of Obedience.

I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience lately. Last week I was reading about Eva Hesse and there was this phrase that really stuck out in my mind — “… haunted by obedience.” So many contemporary acts of rebellion feel forced, phony, or inauthentic. Symbols of it – like tattoos, strange hair styles, and so on – are now meaningless. Where is the real rebellion? Is that possible? Are we all haunted by obedience?


I make things.

11 thoughts on “Prayers for the wild at heart”

  1. Me thinks there are many for whom honour and obedience are one in the same. Conversely, there are those who know better. “…haunted by obedience”; that’s rather nightmare-ish.

    1. Very true. Like so many things, it’s subjective and about balance. The tricky thing about it is recognizing when you’re just obeying without knowing that’s what you’re doing.

  2. p.s. I truly love your work. I have a collection of picture frames that vary in size and are a bit oldish. Would you like to have them? 🙂

  3. hmm obedience and rebellion seem to have a strange relationship. I love Eva Hesse, and it makes sense now, too, that she thought about obedience as foreboding. I think instead of rebellion, now, maybe independence is more of an opposite to obedience? At least I feel like independence is hard to constantly accomplish without being at least a bit disobedient…but I can see it both ways

    1. I agree. If you rebel simply to rebel, then you’re still obeying, it just applies to a different set of rules. And if you obey, you’re not necessarily doing it only to obey. Perhaps independence is the balance.

  4. If my daughter were a couple of years older I would seriously consider getting your circus pieces for her room. She’s only 4 1/2 and she’s already taking a very firm stand on not eating meat, and even heckled people standing in line at the deli counter at our co-op. We’re just now starting to talk about circuses and zoos, in an age-appropriate context. If she still feels the same way in a few years as she does now, I have a feeling she’ll be one of those pre-teens picketing outside circuses and foie gras-serving restaurants.

    Regarding animal performers in film: I read in a review of that new Franco film that it managed to be 100% animal free. I would go see the film just for that reason alone. Well, and I sort of enjoy the Nature Taking Over Shitty Human Oppressors genre, too.

    1. When I started making these, I had children in mind stylistically, although I’m sure many children could look at them and not see the criticism veiled within it to varying degrees. Hell, some adults don’t see it.

      I hope your daughter does not lose her tenacity. It’s pretty easy to fall into the “I just want to fit in and be liked” thing when you’re growing up. She sounds like she’s already on a roll, though. I don’t even have the nerve to heckle people in the deli line. (I’m well trained. But that’s another issue.)

      And now I want to see that movie. My only other reason before was also my penchant for Nature Taking Over Shitty Human Oppressors films. Maybe I can talk my husband into taking me out on a date.

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