Art linking research and practice
I am a visual artist, environmentalist, and animal advocate. With a background in science, technology and business, and degrees in biology and psychology, I take an interdisciplinary approach in both my art practice and my academic research. I recently graduated from Carleton University an MA in Art History where I my pursued research interests and questions about the representation of animals in art and the impacts of industrialized animal agriculture on the biosphere.
In 2019 I learned about the field of ecocriticism and eco-art. Ecocriticism is an umbrella term for a range of critical approaches in the arts and writing that explore the representation of the relationship between the human and the non-human or the human and ‘nature.’ “Eco-Art” was coined in 1989 by Felix Guattari, as the practice of revealing environmental concerns of the planet to society, and has become a way of structuring a wide variety of contemporary art practices that engage and respond to the ecological and environmental issues of the Anthropocene. I believe this combination of ecocriticism and eco-art is a perfect fit for me and will allow me to reconnect with my earlier studies in ecology.
Although I still anguish over humanity’s ‘inhumanity’ to other species, I realize that climate change is a universal crisis affecting all species.
Beth Shepherd, BSc, BA (Hons Psych), MA (Art History)
Contacts and Links:
To contact me please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To visit my other website, more to do with art, art history, and urban ecology, see bethshepherd.ca.
About Art that Makes a Difference
Since 2011 my visual art practice has been focused on drawing attention to the cruelty and destructiveness of factory farming. In my 2010-2014 series, Pigs in a (Post) Modern World, I recreated over fifty modern masterpieces, incorporating pigs in the picture to help raise consciousness of the sentient and social animals trapped in the industrialized food production system. In a curatorial study on the pastoral print competed in 2015, I investigated the changing cattle industry over a two-hundred year period and its role as a major contributor to Climate Change. Then after seeing a disturbing footage on the treatment of new-born lambs, I completed a “cute but creepy” series of classical satyrs and fauns called Animal Lovers. In 2016-17 I worked on “The Animal in the Room” project using sculpture and print-based mixed-media. The idea behind it was to address the “elephant in the room” by putting a face on the animals we call food.
Completed as part of my graduate studies, “Mishka Henner’s Feedlots: New Perspectives on the Contemporary Ecocritical Landscape” questions why industrial animal agriculture is not a more prominent subject in discourse and art exhibitions on the Anthropocene. This work reflects my widening perspectives — from animal welfare to the ecology of climate change and environmental justice for all species.