Haunting Knitted Animal Pelts Draw Attention To the Plight Of Endangered Species

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Stretched and bound over wooden frames, the animal pelts of Australian artist Ruth Marshall are so utterly realistic looking that it is difficult to believe that they are not in fact fur and hide. Constructed out of knitted yarn, they compel us to consider the endangered species killed and skinned by poachers and collectors. Though illegal, the devastating skin trade has taken the lives of thousands of tigers in the past thirteen years, leaving only an estimated 3,200 tigers in the wild. Before poaching practices, deforestation, and other damaging factors contributed by humans, there were approximately 100,000 of this magnificent creatures around the globe.

Marshall learned of the plight of wild cat species while working at the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society, an experience that moved her deeply. With her Big Cat Series, she hopes to provide a sustainable and humane alternative to tiger, leopard, and jaguar pelts. The nuances of each life-sized work is touchingly based on a real animal, whom the artist became acquainted in captive conditions. A few are modeled after skins owned by collectors. The project effortlessly illustrates the value of artisan work, which ultimately could hold higher commercial value than black market pelts.

Here, Marshall transforms a cruel practice into a labor of love. Where animal pelts have come to represent a cruel and grotesque opulence and greed, she introduces knitting, a craft associated with nurturing and care. As a result, her pieces are both disarming and lovely,a refreshing jolt of sustainability and activism. To learn how you can help save the tigers and other animals, please visit World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
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1600 Endangered Panda Bears Take Over Our Cities In Poignant Installation

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The group 1,600 of exquisitely crafted papier-mâché panda bears have already travelled to and occupied cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome, and TaiPei; next month, they will overtake ten Hong Kong historical landmarks and tourist sites. As part of the Pandas on Tour project, these cuddly creatures are crafted from recycled materials by the French artist Paulo Grangeon in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, PMQ, and All Rights Reserved. Each sculpture has an important statement to make: there are less than 1,600 pandas living in the wild. Grangeon’s small creatures, with their wide eyes and round bodies, are easily be displayed side-by-side, providing a halting vision of the endangered species.

Human forces have forced the panda bears in a state of emergency; mining, tourism, and global warming have all contributed to the distraction of animal habitat in Chinese forests. Wild panda conservation is crucial, as the animals can rarely be convinced to mate in captivity.

Believe it or not, humans have a biological impetus for wanting to protect the species. Pandas have proven to be the most beloved animal for their resemblance to human babies; they too have wide eyes and their paws contain a “pseudo thumb.” Grangeon’s touching creatures are imbued with the tender hearts we recognize in the animals they represent. With poignantly cartoonish eyes, round ears, and emotive facial expressions, the papier-mâché figures inspire a whole lot of empathy. To learn how you can help the panda bears, visit WWF or the Smithsonian’s Giant Panda Conservation Fund. (via HuffPost, Time, and Design Boom)
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