This first project is one that makes me cry and smile at the same time! This is a photographer who takes pictures of pit bulls with flower arrangements on them to soften the pit bull image.
National Geographic did an article on French Photographer Sophi Gamand, who is helping change the image of the pit bull who remains in the center of a highly contentious debate. For many that don’t know me I have been a part of this fight for many, many years having rescued 3 neglected and beaten pits myself and working to help break up dog fighting rings in my years with the DESPCA. What this photographer is doing for this breed is just moving.
Sophie comes from a country where pit bulls are banned and wasn’t deterred from opening her mind and heart to these dogs and creating a series of portraits that would challenge the world’s preconceived notions on these creatures.
“I was apprehensive when I tied the first flower crown on a dog’s head,” she says. “The first time I did it, I thought, ‘I’m going to lose my face!’ The dog just sat there and looked at me; she was so peaceful, she didn’t even shake her head. She just sat there and looked at me with deep, soulful eyes. After that, the shoot was easy.”
Gamand says she hopes that the effervescent nature of the pictures will help people to connect to the plight of pit bulls, which she says are euthanized by the hundreds of thousands every year. “I’m basically using art to force people to linger longer on these pictures, which creates an emotional response and connection to the dogs—it allows for the debate to be a little more interesting,” she says.
“It’s like art with a mission, which is kind of the best art there is.”
I agree with Gamand, Art with a mission is the best art there is. I wish I could do what she is doing for this breed, making a difference.
The Second project that struck close to home being from the beach area for a good portion of my adult hood was a project that was featured in The Washington Post.
Standing outside of the National Zoo’s Visitor Center in Washington D.C. is the exhibit named “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea”. Flash the marlin is made out of fine pieces of trash, he is comprised of toilet seats for gills, three fishing rods for his long bill, his eyes are created from a mayonnaise lid, a beer can, a motor oil container and a silver sandal and the socket from a deflated cinderella beach ball.
This sculpture weighs 850lbs and is made almost entirely of plastic trash that has washed upon the Oregon beaches. He is not alone, he is one of 17 larger than life marine sculptures that are on display at the National Zoo.
Made by a team of artists and volunteers led by Angela Haseltine Pozzi, “Washed Ashore,” which will run through September 5, is an art exhibition with a message. As Haseltine Pozzi (pronounced Hazel-teen POTS-ee) puts it: “Plastic pollution is just choking the ocean. It’s hurting the animals, and we have to change our consumer habits.”
The ocean plays hosts to over 315 billion pounds of trash and these plastics are having a huge impact on the animals from plastic nets that strangle turtles, fish and coral to tiny bits of plastic that kill animals that mistakenly eat them. The Washed Ashore Non Profit Organization that is creating these works of beauty are not only giving us spectacular artwork but they are doing it by way of cleaning up our beaches and oceans, thus saving our sea lives! This is one of my favorites. Read The Article.
This is my third project that has moved me. It is a project that fuses Arabic calligraphy with graffiti to paint colorful, swirling messages of hope and peace on buildings from the Tunisia to Paris. This message covers 50 buildings and is fully seen from a nearby mountain.
This project was not about bringing art to a community to make it look better but by switching the perception to open up a dialogue with communities they do not know. These were not ideal conditions that they worked in. They overcame working in trashy circumstances and climbing scaffolding when heights were a huge fear.
This project was done to drop a barrier of misunderstanding between communities.
Watch how this artist was moved by his own project and the understanding that the difference he made by creating and following through with it will create the difference intended by his and his team’s creation.