This is a 30-second clip from my Artist Talk at LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans. No matter how many times I have to speak in public, it’s always terrifying. Which is why I often think that the things I don’t want to do, are probably the things that I should do. Side note: this Saturday (Sept. 24th) is the last day to catch this exhibit!
My painting Preservation is featured on the current cover of the Denver Quarterly. Aside from being on the cover, I’m also happy to have another opportunity to get the message out regarding animal and ecological welfare. The circle of leaves was an image that came to mind before falling asleep, and I made note of it in my sketchbook. Using the leaves to replace the head (which is in keeping with some recent paintings where I use landscapes or trees in place of heads), represents the connection of all life forms. Nature is so much a part of us that I freely use trees or landscapes in place of heads or limbs, just to emphasize that connection and significance.
The small lot of land the deer stands on is in reference to our dire need to conserve wild land and forests. The natural space is shrinking due to deforestation. All the more reason to plant trees and support organizations that preserve natural habitats.
In many of my paintings, I use the eyes and facial expressions of animals to convey a sense of connection and relatability, but lately I’ve been doing the opposite and feature animals without faces or covered faces. I’ve been exploring the idea of Anonymity vs. Connection- without seeing their faces, does that make them any less personable or meaningful? And how does this apply on a global scale?
Well, this is it. This is the last time Mother Nature will be on view to the public. It is currently on exhibit in the “Animus” exhibit in London, and afterwards will have its permanent home in London. This painting has been an important piece for me since it is the only painting I’ve done directly dealing with dairy:
Our use of animals and the environment has led to practices that could be considered a bizarre perversion of nature. From our everyday use to the most complex scientific discoveries, we have created a new world far removed from that of our original planet. Our food is no longer something we grow or find ourselves, but prepackaged, processed, and mass-produced. ‘Natural’ has become unnatural. We consider it eccentric or bohemian. We, as adults, drink what is essentially breast milk from an entirely different species, yet scoff at the idea of a woman breastfeeding her infant in public. In Mother Nature a calf is seen nursing from a human breast, calling to question our double standards- if this is bizarre, then why is it not when the roles are reversed?
I’m a vegan artist living in “Sportsman’s Paradise.” For those that don’t know, that would be Louisiana. Not exactly a pleasant state nickname if you are a vegan. Nevertheless, I’ve managed to live a vegan lifestyle here and have even made a niche for myself as an artist. And I actually like living here… though I could do without the humidity. So how is this possible, you may ask.
For starters, being a vegan, environmental artist is no harder than any other artist. Art is supposed to make a statement, and it’s not going to be something everyone necessarily agrees with. So the fact that my work is influenced by my personal beliefs, is not any different than any other artist creating work about what matters most to them. And galleries are choosy about what they show regardless, so again, it doesn’t matter if you’re a vegan artist or not.
Louisiana is known for it’s food, unfortunately none of that involves tofu. Yet. So, yes, that is bothersome for me, but it doesn’t stop me from living here. If anything, it just gives me more reason to keep doing what I do. Add to that the BP oil spill, hurricanes, and wetland loss, I have even more reason to be here and speak up for our animals and our environment.
I have met some resistance, but I don’t know any vegan that hasn’t, so I wouldn’t say that’s exclusive to Louisiana. Usually it comes from older family members that have no filter. A lot of people seem to be coming around, while others tolerate it but don’t understand it. I’ve been a vegan for 17 years now and have seen a definite shift in the mindset of the general population. For starters, most people now know how to correctly pronounce vegan and might know someone that is. A lot are open to at least trying vegan recipes. (Everyone loves my dinner parties!) And some are starting to become aware of the huge environmental impact that factory farming has on our planet.
Overall, I’ve had a very positive response to my art, both in and outside of Louisiana, which is promising for many reasons. I would love to see more vegans here, but I’m sure a lot of people would say the same about where they live, too. In the meantime, I’m going to keep doing what I do. With every painting, I have another opportunity to reach out to the world, and inspire them to do more for animals and the planet. And on that note, it’s time to get back to the studio.
I came across an article- “What’s So Contemporary About Hieronymus Bosch’s Apocalyptic Visions?”- about one of my favorite artists of all time, Hieronymus Bosch. The idea that his work is still relevant today is nothing new to me, seeing as I’m such a fan. Not to mention my own penchant for surreal imagery and human-animal hybrids. Even if you are new to Bosch’s work, you cannot help but notice the parallels between his art from the 15th century and the world of today.
As writer Dean Kissick states, “Hieronymus Bosch shows us not how scary the world is, but how ridiculous. The reason his paintings of heaven and hell appear so relevant today is because we are now living in them, and the boundaries between people, animals, and objects really are falling apart: 2016 is a world of avatars and branded mascots, a place with robotic household appliances that talk to us, and an internet of things, with human ears growing out the back of mice, and otherkin teenagers dressing up as their animal forms. Thousands of writhing naked bodies are only a couple clicks away, and most of our perverse fantasies have been visualised somewhere, even those involving octopuses and vibrators. The field really does have eyes and so much of what happens in the world is captured on video, from the coral reef’s weirdest creatures, to the orgiastic sex tapes of the super-wealthy, to the scenes of bloody massacres; on our illuminated screens, as in Bosch’s triptychs, scenes of horror intermingle with others of joy, so close to one another, and this complexity and contrariness seems the very essence of the present-day experience.”
Prints of my painting, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, are in! This is a limited edition run of giclée prints, $50 each plus shipping (usually $7.05 in the United States). They are signed and numbered on 100% cotton rag, Acid-free, archival, 230 gsm paper, 14″ wide by 11″ high. Contact me at: http://amyguidry.com/contact.html.
I have a big announcement. For the first time ever, I will have prints of Everything’s Coming Up Roses. I have done a limited edition run of 14″ wide x 11″ high giclees and they will be available soon for $50. If you would like to be notified as soon as they are available, message me or email me with the best way to contact you.
The Frieze art fair in New York has a donkey on display as an “exhibit.” The “artist” is Maurizio Cattelan. The donkey is left standing around in an empty room with a chandelier above. What? This has no meaning, no message, nothing. The artist thinks it connects humans to animals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, this donkey is on display, an object for our entertainment. This is no different than going to a zoo, other than the pointless chandelier.
Many people are up in arms over the welfare of the donkey. Of course the show promoters argue that the donkey has it “good” and much better than being in a barn. Then again, are animals meant to just live out their lives in a barn?
This is not the first time animals have been used as “art.” Last year there were a dozen horses cooped up in a gallery. And in 2014, tortoises had i-Pads screwed into their shells for an “installation” piece by Cai Guo-Qiang. These are just recent examples that have made headlines. Unfortunately, there are others. In every one of these cases, the artists and the gallery owners all argue that the animals are fine and unharmed. There is no way that they can know this. They just issue some sanitary, generic statement to put the public at ease and go about their day. The animals are not their highest concern.
There is no reason why live animals should be used as art. If you were to replace the animal with a child, you would get a call from Social Services, so how is it any different for any other living being? There are ways to get your message across without using live animals. You’re an artist, get creative and figure out another way. I paint animals, I focus on our connection to the natural world, and I also deal with difficult issues such as habitat destruction and extinction, just to name a few.
If you really want to make a statement, how about going vegan? How about not supporting companies that test on animals? How about rescuing animals rather than using them? That’s a far greater statement than this so-called art.