Monday, September 12, 2016

How Far Down the Integrity Rabbit Hole Should the Artist Go?

Eden, Cathedral Rock, Sedona, Arizona, 9 x 12 inches, Acrylic on Wood.
Copyright 2016 Mary Gravelle aka Braylee Rush
Lately, as I become more aware of the environmental footprint of the oil industry, the injustices to our fellow man, and abuses to the animals of this world, this question arises. How far down the rabbit hole must I journey to do what is within the highest integrity in respect to everything around me, including all of life?

In particular, what is my part as an artist in all this? What is the role and responsibility of the artist to the whole of life as they create their art?

Environmental Footprint and Impact

This has been prompted in part by an email I received last week from Gamblin Artists Colors. It said:

"We know many painters are interested in knowing where their materials are from and in making the right choices for their work, their own well-being and the environment. ...We craft our paints from raw pigments and vegetable oil. The linseed oil we use comes from a field, not an oil refinery. By contrast, acrylics are generally emulsions of plastics derived from petroleum, water, pigment, ammonia and other agents."

Yikes, this weighs heavy on my heart. I recently signed a petition and shared it on Facebook to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. I want to lessen our reliance on oil. My preferred medium is acrylic. I have been experimenting heavily with acrylic gel mediums. I have not done enough research yet on my own to ascertain the impacts of using acrylic paints and mediums upon the environment. I will.

Sir Kitty at Home, 36 x 60 x 1.5 inches, Acrylic on Canvas.
Copyright 2010 Mary Gravelle aka Braylee Rush.
No animal was abused while painting this painting. Sir Kitty is well cared
for, respected, fed well, and loved very much. But, still, he is not a
total free being. I suppose he could run away if he was not happy.
How far do we journey down the rabbit hole of integrity?

Animal Rights

Another incident happened at an art walk event here in Sedona. The Rowe Gallery had an artist sculpting a clay wolf head. Two wolves were on scene for him to use as his models. One was in a cage in the back of a pickup truck. I walked away, wondering about the health and safety of these wolves. Were they being exploited for our entertainment as we "oohed and ahed" at his skills to sculpt the head quickly and accurately? I felt a wave of deep sadness wash over me. I wasn't sure what that was about. I think I know now.

Today I learned that the Jordan World Circus is coming to Cottonwood, a neighboring town. They proudly advertise the use of animals, tigers and elephants as "affordable family fun." Here is information on this circus since I wondered how they treat their animals. Again, a deep sadness washed over me this morning. Here is the link to the article quoted below.

"8. Jordan World Circus
Not only does this circus confine tigers for long periods of time in small spaces, it also withheld veterinary care from a sick tiger for a month and forced the tiger to keep performing. The Jordan World Circus is also one of the last circuses in the U.S. to continue to force bears to perform.
Facebook/The Jordan World Circus"


So, all of this is coming together to formulate the original question, just how far down this rabbit hole must we artists travel in order to remain in alignment and integrity with life? Do we, as artists, have a more responsible role than other professionals since art is a means to communicate life, prompt questions, raise current issues, and address the higher aspects of it?

What are your thoughts?

Next week, I will do more research on acrylic paints and mediums and write about it here. Stay tuned.

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