Human behaviors such as poaching, animal habitat destruction and the our unmitigated excesses that have led to climate change are killing off the world’s animal species. In fact, the earth is currently undergoing a mass extinction on the level of the last mass extinction on earth which occurred some 65 million years ago. At that time, an asteroid crashed into the earth off the coast of Yucatan and wiped out the dinosaurs and many other species, too. Fast forward to the present mass extinction. This time we’re doing it to ourselves. In the past 50 years, 67% of wildlife species have become extinct. (Source: the British publication The Independent).
One commentator for The Guardian, also a British newspaper, wrote a very unsettling article recently titled, “Imagine a World Without Animals.” It turns out that we need animals, and we humans are experiencing the negative consequences of their disappearance. We need those bees and birds to pollinate our food plants, just for one human need. Plus there’s no way a robot is going to ever take the place of this sweet little dog sitting politely in front of me, sending me a nonverbal message with her eyes, “It’s time for a walk now.”
What does all this have to with art? Animals, wildlife especially, have long been a source of inspiration for artists. Sonoran Arts Network has interviewed many artists in the past four years who are involved in documenting the natural world and interpreting its meaning for us. In some cases the documentation is one of great beauty. In other cases, the art addresses the problem of destruction. I am especially grateful to artists like Rick Wheeler interviewed this month in Sonoran Arts Network, for his work of documenting, portraying, and drawing attention to our wildlife. Let’s hope that the creatures he portrays will manage to survive the storm that has already begun.
C.J. Shane is the publisher and editor of Sonoran Arts Network. She is an artist and writer. Visit her website at www.cjshane.com to learn more about her.