I hadn’t given my current public art project a name, nor had I created a video to promote it. Both sort of evolved with each other this past weekend. As I was putting images together for the video, and as I was reviewing research and other articles, a thought kept going through my mind.
The writing is on the wall.
We use this phrase as an ominous warning that, if we do not pay attention to the obvious, we will face dire consequences.
We need to pay attention to the fact that many children and animals in our world are facing dire consequences. We need to look at both and find ways to help them to safety, and we need to aid children affected by domestic violence in dealing with the emotional turmoil in their lives.
Since the images to be employed for the latest mural are of children drawing on a wall, it occurred to me that there was a parallel meaning there.
The video is done, and the title reflects the importance of the the Okey’s Promise mission.
The Writing, and the Drawing, is on the Wall.
Please feel free to share the video and embed it on your website if you like. Please link back to this site if you. Thanks!
Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, our collective senses have been rattled. Not only with the telling of the story of what happened, but also with the images that have been thrust into our view of frightened children, grief stricken parents, and other signs of intense pain.
And guns. Everywhere you turn – newspapers, TV news, online magazines – you see pictures of assault weapons. It is as if seeing the image of these machines that are designed to kill will somehow motivate us to some kind of action.
As we are gripped with the pain of this one tragedy, however, we tend to ignore the daily tragedy of harm that befalls other children daily. An average of 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse in the United States. Nearly 6 million children are harmed in some way by domestic abuse each year according to reports, which likely underestimate the true number of abuses cases.
We have ugly pictures to go along with that too. Photos of sad, morose children wth dirty faces and black eyes evoke pity and implore us to do something. Again, it seems that the only way to motivate people to action is to assault them with images of awful things.
Another area of activism that tries to motivate with horrifying imagry is the pet rescue community. Images of bloody and emaciated animals creep their way into my Facebook newsfeed every day. Activists think that sharing these awful pictures of abused and neglected animals will motivate us to do something to stop animal abuse.
Artists often buy into this myth that scare tactics motivate people to action. They fill their artworks with macabre images that thrill the arts intelligencia, who analyze their expressiveness with egoistic verbosity.
But looking at the statistics on mass shootings, child abuse and animal abuse, these motivation tactics do not seem to be working. Children are still being harmed. Animals are still being harmed. The two phenomena are deeply intertwined in their occurrence in our society. And shocking us with imagry is not making a dent in creating change.
As an artist, I do not enjoy creating ugly things. I deplore violence towards children and animals, and I want to use my art to educate people about how these two issues are connected. I want to inspire and lead people towards meaningful change. But I cannot, and will not do it by perpetuating the ugliness.
All of my artwork has a positive and joyful quality. It is not by accident. I choose color and other artistic elements that bring about those qualities on purpose. It is not to ignore the less positive realities in life, but to articulate the more positive outcomes that we seek.
With my Okey’s Promise projects, I more purposefully challenge people to initiate a dialogue about the links between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence – a particularly ugly reality of human society. But even so, I do this by intriguing people with images of hope instead of creating images that make them want to turn away.
I don’t know if I will make a dent any more than those who resort to sensationalism tactics. I can’t go wrong with hope, though. What have I got to lose?
By many accounts, Magnotta was a deeply disturbed individual. His profile is both bizarre and grotesque. As we learn more about him, we are likely to find that his behavior and personality are well outside of what most of us could conceive as human.
Many notoriously bizarre killers abused and killed animals before they killed human beings. Jeffy Dahmer, comes to mind, as do Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz. As a result of this knowledge, we typically connote animal abuse with the most heinous of crimes. As we should.
Yet these types of crimes are rare (thank God). Other crimes that are linked to animal abuse are not. Child abuse and domestic violence occur every minute of the day.
Thankfully, few animal abusers go on to commit grisly murders. Many more than we can imagine, however, DO act out violently towards women and children and other vulnerable people in less known crimes.
Children who harm animals need intervention. Not because they will grow up to be like Jeffrey Dahmer or Luka Rocco Magnotta, but because they are likely to grow up to be like the person(s) who abused them.
When animals are suffering in society, children are too. When there is violence to animals, there is likely violence to children and others who may be defenseless.
If you are aware of abuse to animals, please act and seek help. The animals deserve this, as do the humans who maybe subject to the abuser’s rage as well.
You may prevent a wayward person from becoming a serial killer, but more likely, you will prevent them from becoming a child or partner abuser.
And that is as important as anything.
Public art to make our world a better place for all creatures great and small.