The photographer Sarolta Bán’s new series of images of abandoned and sheltered animals stays true to its touchingly simple title: Help Dogs with Images. For homeless animals, visibility is often a dream; far too many go unseen and unrecognized, and through her vivid imaginings in Photoshop—brought to life by the dignified warmth and wisdom of furry faces—Bán, previously featured here, hopes to change all that. With a support network of over 105,000 followers, she invites people around the world to submit photographs, transforming them into complex and poignant works of art and activism.
What stands out in Help Dogs with Images is the artist’s honest and humane representations of animal yearning. A photograph of a white dog becomes a symbol of hope and light; his playful and expectant glance upwards illuminates a single white butterfly amidst a dark nighttime landscape. As a child might wish upon a shooting star, a dappled dog implores a bright moon, a celestial beacon of recognition that movingly shares his own black and white spots.
Bán’s work is so successful because its soulfulness never veers into saccharine or cutesy territory; each image is hopeful yet serious, its emotionality heightened by stark contrasts and high resolutions. In one desperately heartrending photograph, a dog and cat watch an hourglass begin to count down; each knows the gravity of his situation, and they are left within a darkly tinted frame, anticipating uncertain futures. Shining canine coats and piercing feline eyes entreat the viewer to consider the dignity, humanity, and thoughtfulness that each creature possesses. To get involved, be sure to visit the project’s Facebook page. (via My Modern Metropolis)
Artist Gary Hovey constructs shiny animal sculptures by welding stainless steel utensils. Hovey uses the initial shape of the particular piece of cutlery - the curves of spoons, the spikeyness of forks, or the flatness of knives - to inform the overall form of the animal he is crafting. Each piece is unique – no molds are used to help shape his work. The most astounding part of Hovey’s work is that the artist has struggled with the effects of Parkinson’s disease since he was diagnosed in 1994. Since 2004, he has been welding flatware, and he finds producing and showing this work to be therapeutic. “I work when I’m able to move. Family and friends carry sculptures for me. But I still get to make them,” says Hovey. “I don’t think the quality has suffered, but it does take longer to make them. It helps financially support my family and it is therapy for me. It has allowed me to meet many wonderful people.” (via my modern met)
Ben Foster‘s sculptures almost appear to be comptuterized digital renderings at first glance. An industrial and natural artist, Foster creates these life-sized animal sculptures out of enamel-coated aluminum, often placing them in the natural environments that surround his New Zealand home. The sculptural form juxtaposed against the natural landscape has a stunning effect, appearing to be at once disparate and cohesive.
From his website, “Foster’s geometrical rendering is suggestive of the animal’s inherent connection to, and place within, the natural environment. Characteristically, it relies on the interplay of light and shadow and while the subject matter is ostensibly pastoral, the result is dramatic with the sculpture’s silhouette as commanding as the mountainous landscape it resembles.” (via colossal)
Stung by the human desire to avert one’s eyes from death and decaying bodies, Emma Kisiel presents Down to Sleep, a series of images that—-like her other series At Rest– forces us to kneel in mourning over the bodies forgotten dead animals,. As she happens upon an animal, she crouches down, fixes each within a compassionate and gentle frame, immortalizing each in a way evocative of Victorian post-mortem photography, each appearing as if he is merely asleep.
Kisiel’s subjects, their lives affirmed and dignified despite their tragic and lonesome deaths, are afforded a painfully loving final farewell. Through their passings, their bodies are sectioned off and dissected by the artist’s frame, leaving only the most poignant physical markers of a meaningful life; with each patch of fur, each tooth and eye, each clasped claw, the viewer is permitted to examine the creature with a balefully sensual intimacy.
Viewers are invited to engage with each animal in a funerary ritual free of any artifice that might make their demise more palatable; they aren’t embalmed, stuffed, or even buried. The are left, haloed in nature’s humble offerings of grass or pebbles, in the exact place and time at which their lives were taken; as time passes, we recognize that these sleepy bodies will disintegrate.
Each animal subject, shot in natural light, offers an honest rendition of death, for as hard as the Kisiel’s camera might work to give meaning to a life lost, it also relentlessly reminds us that discarded bodies will inevitably be vanished and consumed by the earth. But perhaps this is the most compassionate way in which we can examine the dead, as eventually forgotten yet eternally potent reminders of the preciousness of life; in these happenstance grave sites, a simple but meaningful meditation on existence take place. (via Lenscratch)
With her recent series Displaced, the photographer Linda Kuo examines the illegal importation of exotic animals into the United States; her subjects, some torn from their habitats and others unable to adapt to their environments in captivity, give voice to the 300 million animals similarly brought to the states as pets.
Each photograph captures the life of a creature being treated for illnesses or wounds at New York City Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine; placed within the sterile context of the hospital, the displaced beasts oscillate between confusion, curiosity, and lonesomeness. The emotional core of the work is rooted in each creature’s supreme isolation; a bird sits alone on a scale, searching for some sort of recognition. Simultaneously, a guinea pig resigns himself to the clean, white basin, and a bird turns his puffy green back.
Amidst this sorrowful sense of displacement emerges an unexpected warmth, fueled by the desperate yearning of both animal and man to feel safe. After a failed resuscitation, a yellow bearded dragon falls into a gentle set of female hands that tenderly enfold his delicate flesh in a bright blue towel. Similarly, a turtle is offered carefully diced vegetables, which he cautiously accepts from giant human fingers; a bird’s heartbeat is measured anonymously but tenderly. Amidst a chaotic world, the hospital is shown to be a respite for the animals, fighting for their wellbeing against the odds.
For Kuo, the series is personal; bullied as a child, she empathizes with those oppressed, alone, and out of their proper place. The work’s resounding message is one of compassion—for ourselves, for the earth, and for those we share it with. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot and Slate)
For her poignant series Behind Glass, the photographer Ann Berry traveled to zoos across the world, traversing Belgium and South Africa, documenting the sufferings and yearnings of primates in captivity. She hopes that her images of the stunning creatures, who alternately raise a hand or cast down shadowy eyes, will benefit non-profits fighting for the rights of animals to humane and just treatment.
The beautiful series vehemently avoids the high resolution color aesthetic of zoological photography, opting instead for a gaze evocative of early pictorialists, who strived to render the photographic distinctly unscientific and launched the then novel medium of photography into the realm of fine art. Within Berry’s jarringly ghostly and ethereal tones, each subject reveals a soulfulness so often hidden in photographs of animals; their struggle is urgently expressionistic, spiritual, dignified, and human. As the artist puts it, she hopes to “hear [the animals’] inner sound.”
The artist’s choice of title refers both to the glass cages and her own glass camera lens, furthering the tragic distance imposed upon animal and human; once captured in space, each primate subject is again captured and fixed with the photographic frame. The sensuality of their glittery eyes, downy beards, and calloused fingertips seduce the viewer, only to remind us that we are tragically separated from the beautiful beasts; only through glass and careful photographic printing may we strive to come together, to touch. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot and Lens Culture)
If you have ever adopted an animal, then Jaime Toh’s SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) “Costume” campaign is sure to tug at your heart strings. Accompanied by the tagline, “Don’t put pedigree above personality,” the advertisements urge people to consider adopting animals in desperate need of a home rather being focused on finding a specific breed (that most likely comes from a breeder). In each image, we see a SPCA animal underneath the coat of a cat or dog with a higher pedigree. In a slightly morbid way, they wear their outsides as a suit, complete with zippers that behead their hosts.
Toh’s images feature smiling, happy dogs with cats do not look as entertained (I’m not surprised). Every animal looks more disheveled than its costume as he plays up the physical differences between shelter and a purebred/adopted pet. But, by visually shedding their outsides, it conveys the concept that when choosing a pet, personality outweighs looks. (Via InspireFirst)
Artist Max Gärtner‘s solo exhibit Animal Watching is a bit of a play on words. Much of the exhibits is filled with intricate animal portraits. The portraits of these animal gallery goers are created using carefully cut paper in impressive detail, that are then mounted and framed. It offers gallery visitors a different sort of Animal Watching. Accompanying the wall mounted artwork, are what appear to three figures, each with a different animal head, carefully inspecting pieces. The sculptures are each an animal watching the gallery events. Check out the video to see the way the piece interact within the gallery and some of the art work being created.