Environmental Art and Our Relationship With Road-killed Animals

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Jamieson-Hanes, Jean
Art , Painting , Emotional Geographies , Environmental Art , Roadkill , Animals
The broad aim of this research creation project is to explore my emotional encounters with road-killed animals. This project involves the current road ecology issue of road-killed animals; the encroachment of human settlements and road-building contributes to overwhelming numbers of animal deaths by vehicular slaughter. These animal deaths occur, perhaps as an acceptable cost to the convenience and cultural necessity of road travel. Emotional Geographies demonstrate how humans and animals move through shared spaces, and how road-killed animal sites might impact their emotional connection. Animal geographies examine the importance of animal agency, both in their right to use these spaces and their representation in an anthropocentric world. Acts of mourning are considered in how humans might grieve animals, elevating their lives to be equal to those of humans. The ethical obligations humans have towards animal deaths are explored and my diary entries provide insight in each encounter with a road-killed animal. Examining a variety of approaches to trans-species artwork, I approach my own paintings in an effort to provide the individual animals agency while simultaneously evoking emotional reactions and ethical conversations among viewers. By using juiced fruits and vegetables, I create a blood-like staining dye. My paintings take current, animal-focused environmental art and use environmentally conscientious materials and remove any use of animals within the art pieces. I mix pre-existing canvas staining techniques and move them forward by creating organic dyes. The stains on the canvas mimic the stains remaining on asphalt after a road-killed animal victim has long been forgotten; displaying these paintings within a human space contemplates the divide between human and animal spaces and insists that these animal deaths are considered. Confronting viewers with frequently ignored deaths of often unvalued individuals highlights that further steps must be taken to consider how animals co-exist with us in shared spaces and how human power within these spaces causes animal death.
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