Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Animal Instinct

Gouache Paintings by Rachel Bone 

I like animals. A lot. I donate to the Audubon society and the SPCA. I housesit for a farm. I love birdwatching (even if I don't know their names). Although I'm not as dedicated as my father in law (who is known for barbecuing and serving nightly gourmet meals for all the wild animals in his yard neighborhood) I respect animals enough to guess that they aren't sitting around with paw pads crossed, hoping to be picked as spiritual guides, or college sports mascots... or even the subject matter of indie tshirt lines. But I'm hoping none will feel patronized if they read this blog and find their general shapes being respectfully painted from memory here, and made into partially make-believe animals with folkloric patterns on their bodies, with the simple purpose of considering different living things and the shapes and movements they make.

I have an embarrassing memory of myself at a final critique in a college sculpture class being asked by a fellow student what my spiritual animal is. I didn't know the answer, and would have shut down the conversation with an all-American eye roll if the professor hadn't shushed the class and stood quietly staring until I remembered feeding a family of Mallards in NH with Phil and gagged out "uh......ducks... I guess?" The entire room looked from me to my wax sculpture of a pair of human lungs and each nodded knowingly, earning me an A+ and a lifelong general disgust of anyone who brings up spiritual animals unless they are themselves in an episode of Northern Exposure, or relaying a traditional folktale by way of puppetry, dance, children's books or the like.

At the same time, I'm always thrilled to hear people's stories about encounters with animals... especially since moving to the city and missing out on nature pretty regularly. Last week was a big animal week for us - I saw a wolf standing by the highway on our drive to upstate NY for a vacation last weekend ... and at the house we stayed in, a baby deer came so close to the front door we could have reached out and pet her head. At a time of year when most life is quiet, and most vegetation is withered and dead... it's so special to see signs of life all around us. Special enough to reconsider that we might all be bound in some way... 


Nate Duval said...

love these

Phil Davis said...

i love this post. my spirit animal is a duck too!