by Susan Saladino
"From the time of creation to the time of Christ, the Bible testifies to Gods love and concern for animal life. The scriptures tell a story of the human failure to fulfill the role that God assigned - the role of compassionate care giver for non human creatures."1
Inspired by a profound love and respect for all living creatures, and an abiding hatred for violence and cruelty, I began gathering information to closely examine all facets of the human - non-human animal relationship. One of the most compelling and informative books I encountered, 'When Elephants Weep', written by Jeffrey Masson and Susan McCarthy, compiles studies from biologists, ethologists, and behaviorists supporting my personal belief that animals possess a rich emotional life very much the same way we do. Science has already acknowledged that animals experience physical pain as acutely as humans do. "To acknowledge such possibilities implies certain moral obligations." 2
The Madonna and Veal Calf
Oil on Canvas
Modern technology has moved us into an age where we have successful and superior alternatives to products and procedures that involve cruelty. Despite these alternatives, laboratories still subject the most sensitive and intelligent animals to brutal atrocities..... Despite the availability of natural plant hormones proven to be safer and equally as effective, some women still choose traditional animal estrogen; even with the understanding that by doing so thousands of adult and infant horses will be tortured and killed.....Synthetic fabrics are readily available as a compassionate alternative, but people still choose to strip the skin off living animals.....Even the circus, a place for innocent entertainment, has a bizarre backdrop of exploitation and cruelty.....For their entire lives, farm animals are contained in severely confined cages or metal crates unable to even turn around, never seeing the sun or breathing fresh air; only the toxic stench of their own excrement. Industrialized farming of today is an exploitation of the innocent. The heartbreaking reality of factory farming is the antithesis of what is projected in countless children's storybooks and toys where we see happy faced farm animals frolicking in sun filled green pastures, well cared for and loved by farmer Brown. Anthropomorphizing animals illustrates to children the similarities between animals and humans with an underlying message encouraging love. The other message given to children is that it is acceptable to exploit and kill those very same creatures.
The heartwarming imagery of maternal tenderness and devotion between mother and child transcends all species. Human beings have revered and celebrated this theme, as it remains ever present in art, literature, and religion historically in all cultures. Given the amount of animal related materials flooding the commercial marketplace and media, it is my conclusion that we have a perpetual love and fascination for animals; but the manner in which we treat animals espouses a disheartening paradox. No animals loved by humans are safe from them. The very same theme of motherhood people idealize, is also the natural right that is routinely denied to animals, as seen in a frightening expose by The Humane Farming Association. Sentient animals are impregnated on a continual basis, their babies prematurely stolen from them, denying the nurturing process while their cries of protest are coldly ignored. "There is a gaping hole in the fabric of human compassion." 4
"The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature who cannot." 5
In my work the image of maternal bonding exemplifies the love and compassion that does exists in the hearts of humankind, touching the spiritual side of ourselves. When we accept violence it separates us from our spirituality. My choice to examine so much of what others choose not to see, has left me in a constant state of mourning and outrage. I embrace the anger; it fuels a passionate fire to, through my work, mend the 'gaping holes' in my heart. "The absence of anger in the face of injustice is a crime far worse than any words or actions that might offend the public, and by doing so, wake those who sleepwalk through life." 6
Susan's Web Site.
Contact Susan via E-mail.
|Paintings by Mary Ann Lederer
In the year 2000, Cincinnati artists created pig statues which were displayed throughout the city and then auctioned in an event known as the Big Pig Gig. One local artist, an active member and contributor to EarthSave Cincinnati, who painted three of these pig statues was Mary Ann Lederer. Mary Ann writes on the experience and shares some pictures of her work...
"Are we really what we eat? And if so, what are we doing to ourselves?"
"I painted three pigs for the Big Pig Gig - all with vegetarian themes. My sponsors were not necessarily vegetarian, but they apparently liked my designs."
My third pig, "Ahimsa" - a Sanskrit word meaning no harm to any being, i.e., compassion - is my most frank pig. Ahimsa is sponsored by EarthSave and Farm Sanctuary. (EarthSave is both local and international and Farm Sanctuary is based in New York and California.) Oh Ahimsa's wing are the words, 'If only I could fly, kiss your slaughterhouse goodbye.' There is a tear in her eye."
"The reason I painted the pigs and, particularly Ahimsa is to communicate a serious message. I am concerned that, as a society, we are treating animals with unprecedented cruelty. For example, factory farmed animals now live their entire lives packed together body against body in a state of total misery. What is done to them is reprehensible. My pig, Ahimsa, is a challenge to the assumption that animals feelings and well-being don't matter. They do. Animals matter. They matter in their own right irrespective of their usefulness to human beings. However, the impact of the abuse of animals may also have horrendous consequences to people."
View a video of 26 of Mary Ann's Paintings 2008
Contact Mary Ann via E-mail.
Mary Ann Lederer