Last Wednesday, I was privileged to attend a Vegan Art Show right here in NYC. This was a really great, SUPER well attended event. Being there reminded me that I have been neglecting to share about an amazing vegan artist and activist I have had the pleasure of getting to know for the past year or so.
The artist, J. Muir, was looking for more subjects for paintings for a recent art show in Quebec. For some reason, I seemed a likely subject!?! J. and I have never met in real life, but often have long virtual discussions about veganism, activism, gender, farming, baking, the environment… I was honored to be painted by a person I admire so! Seeing how my image came to life in J.’s painting was truly remarkable.
I thought it would be nice to share a bit more about the artist and the way activism is part of the art that is created. In J.’s own words….
I use a large amount of recycled materials to construct my paintings. Your painting was mounted on recycled melamine and plywood paneling that I recuperated while working at a cabinetry shop (if not, the materials would be in the dump right now). It was painted on canvas that I found at a second-hand store, in a big roll for $5. I use non-toxic paints, no cadmium or cancer-causing agents, and no bone black or animal ingredients in the acrylic paint (that I know of so far, you can refer folks to my project of researching vegan art supplies). But I do have to say that I was using up some old paint that someone gave me, so your painting does have some toxic yellow on it. If not I wouldn’t have been able to finish it – my budget for art supplies is pretty limited.
I’m just now starting to produce paintings after somewhat of a pause. I used the time to try to re-focus and find out where I was going with my art. I worked on some block prints and silk screen images. My current subject matter revolves around humans, animals, and plants, reflecting my love of the natural world. It’s figurative work which is deeply influenced by Fauvist artists as well as Myfanwy Pavelic and Lucien Freud, among others.
Inasmuch as imagery can help cultivate respect and admiration for animals and their habitat, this could be seen as ‘vegan’ art. I guess my work follows more Lee Hall’s vision of how we should be showing free-living animals in their dignity, beauty, and autonomy, instead of dwelling on the victimhood of nameless, unknown slaughter-bound captives.
My world view is definitely reflected in my art. I adore trees and tomato plants, grasshoppers and gophers. I love big predators and thrill to the sound of coyotes yip-yipping to each other through the valley where I live. Even though it may give me chills on my evening walk, I recognize that I’m in their territory, and that life involves risk – and I would rather have some wild world left than to live in dull safety in a dead environment. I abhor toxic chemicals and everything that destroys the forests that I hold precious. I believe that humans can grow up as a species and take responsibility for our use of technology, aligning ourselves with natural processes and living in harmony instead of carelessly destroying the very habitat that sustains us all.
As activists, we all strive to live our values as fully as we can. It is always so inspiring to encounter others who bring their values to their work. J. is an inspiration to me and I hope you have enjoyed this little introduction!