Activism Responding to the Impacts of Animal Cruelty

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 3.28.13 PM

Painting by Dana Ellyn ย 

Moving from the general to the more specific issues concerning animal cruelty. I will be looking at why this topic is important and affects all of us and that this is why so many visual artists and activists are incorporating anti-animal cruelty into their works. Why do people abuse animals? Animals are innocent creature that Mother Nature has created. They are here to co-habit with us. They are not here for us to abuse, neglect, or rule. Every living creature has the right to live in peace. It is our social and moral responsibility as human beings to ensure that no living being is abused and neglected, human or animal.

Many individual artists know this and incorporate animal cruelty into their works. There are even whole organizations such as PETA who have activists dedicated to this cause. This activism is done in a number of ways. Through visual protests, campaigns, posters, photography, etc. Sometimes activism done through art can have a more profound effect on people than by simply lecturing or giving facts about the cause, especially if these artists and activists have agency within the community. Viewers are able to visually see the effects without the message being too overbearing and are able to interpret the message for themselves as well as feel the impact. I have researched many ways in which this can be done. Through graffiti, public protests, artwork, and art installations just to name a few. Nicholas Mirzoeff in Chapter 7 of How to See the World tells us โ€œGraffiti is a way to reclaim public space for discussion. It can reach people who might not see mainstream media let alone go to an art gallery (264). A very informative website that I found, OneGreenPlanet, showcases many artists and their works of activism, such as Gale Hart who is a sculptor, painter, and multimedia artist. In 2010 Gale released a collection of work titled Why Not Eat Your Pet that focuses โ€œon the hypocrisy of human treatment of food animals.โ€ PETA also has a link on their website that highlights artists such as Jo Frederiks, Dana Ellyn and Banksy just to name a few who use pictures and art to speak up about animal rights. In my final post I will go more in depth with the mediums and strategies used by these artists to communicate this global issue.


Works Cited

โ€œArt and Activism: A Spotlight On Animal Rights Activists (Part 1).โ€ One Green Planet. One Green Planet, 15 Dec. 2011. Web. 25 May 2017.

โ€œPicture Perfect: Artists Speak Up for Animal Rights.โ€ PETA Australia. PETA Australia, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May 2017.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas.ย How to see the world. Great Britain: Pelican, 2015. Print.


Animal Rights Activism

Go Vegan! Campaign

These billboards are featured as part of Jonathan Horowitz’s Go Vegan! Campaign

This image was taken from


This week I focused on finding examples of visual activism pertaining to my topic, animal cruelty. This is a global issue that has an effect on virtually every country. Whether it is a beloved family animal or a creature in the wild all animals are intelligent creatures that should be treated with respect and not cause them any unnecessary suffering or pain. I am researching how artists and designers have represented animal rights through images of art and design in America as well as in other countries. I will also be looking at animal rights laws in these countries and how they might pertain to the activism being done in those countries. One of the animal rights organizations I will be looking at is PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which is an American organization that is known for their controversial advertising tactics. The slogan from their website is, โ€œAnimals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.โ€ I will be looking at some of their print media and commercials as well as what activists have done in a public speaking format. I will also be showcasing artists who through their projects show their opposition to animal cruelty. Some of these artists are Jonathon Horowitz, Banksy, and Rubi Roth. I will be analyzing their works and the effect that they might have on the public. I believe an effective format for my creative work would be to do a screencast consisting of all of the artistsโ€™ works and a short glimpse of my thoughts on each artist and a general theme if one in fact exists.

Te Ao Hurihuri: Animal Cruelty

Te ao hurihuri identifies the current moment as a part of a series of events that began with first contact and settlement and continues until the present moment. It acknowledges how contemporary shifts in technology and cultural development are located in relation to wider historical influences and connections and affects future social, political and cultural structures and discourse.

For this project we are asked to investigate and respond to a social, cultural, economic, political or environment issue of our choice. I have decided to focus on animal cruelty and animal rights specifically in the United States. I believe this topic is current and relevant and I will be able to find numerous visual elements I can utilize. I have already found several artists that have dedicated entire projects and pieces of work to animal cruelty. Through this type of visual activism they have the ability to get their message out to a wider audience in a creative way. I will be focusing on animal rights laws in the United States, if those laws are actually being followed and on a wide variety of peopleโ€™s opinions on this critical topic. One idea I have in mind is to showcase the evolution of visual activism with the advances and changes in technology and how this has influenced the way people are able to portray their opinions on social issues as well as what is now socially acceptable to show which might have been too extreme in the past. I am looking forward to delving further into this topic as well as seeing what my peers have chosen and being able to help and provide feedback on their work as well as receive constructive feedback on my work.

Independent Study

This week for independent study we were asked to review videos from Resources for building a visual and contextual analysis. I watched The power to tell the difference: visual literacy in a visual age and John Berger/Ways of Seeing, Episode 1 from the section Making an analysis of a visual workโ€”Visual Literacyโ€”Contextual and Critical Analysis. In the first video I thought that the idea of โ€œthe more convincing the imagery, the gap between fact and fiction blursโ€ was very interesting. That because of all the advanced technology we now have and the way we can make a fabricated reality with visual and auditory experiences seem like actual reality is profound. Visual literacy requires critical thinking and awareness; we need anchors to be able to tie ourselves down to whatโ€™s real.

John Berger made some valid points when discussing how the invention of the camera has changed not only what we see, but how we see it. He back this idea up by stating that looking at painting used to be a unique experience, but now they can be seen in a million different places at the same time. I agree with this notion of how seeing an amazing work of art used to be a privilege only experienced by few and now you can just type it in on Google and see it for yourself at home. I think, in a way, this does detract from the experience of going into a museum and witnesses firsthand an artwork. โ€œPaintings now lend themselves to easy manipulation. They can be used to make arguments or points which may be different from their original meaning.โ€ I fully agree with this notion that people can interpret art and spin itโ€™s meaning however they want to benefit their beliefs. In our society today we are taking things that are supposed to be unique, wonderful experiences and making them easily transferable digitally for the masses to see.

From the Visual Analysis Meaning making and โ€œTruth Valueโ€ section I viewed A Photographic Truth. Photographic truth is characterized as a myth. This is because everyone has his or her own truth when looking at an image. Also, more often than we think those โ€œcandidโ€ shots that photographers are always seemingly able to capture can in fact be purposeful manipulation. I thought this video gave great insight to the process behind pictorial manipulation and why we shouldnโ€™t always take things as factual just because itโ€™s an amazing photo in a popular magazine.

Lastly, I watched World Views vs. Western World Views. I was aware of the different viewpoints from western and indigenous people, but to see the animations and facts in this video that go along with it make these two different views even more obvious. The way of thinking is opposite in almost every element, from how we think about nature, the community and the market economy. In the western market economy 40% of the Earthโ€™s resources are owned by 1% of the population. How does that make any sense? We have a terrible sense of community that is just driven by competition for personal gain. In my opinion, the indigenous people have the right idea about how to view the world.