Ivory

IVORY.125

 

For how long has humanity’s valuation of human life and lifestyle, over that of other animals, justified a collective behavior that is untenable for all living creatures? Guided by paleontologist Dr. Jack Tseng of UC Berkeley; anthropologist Dr. Ben Marwick, University of Washington; and renowned conservationist Ivan Carter, Zimbabwe, IVORY explores the predominant hand of humans in animal extinction. 

 

Throughout existence, humans have vanquished beasts. The most powerful among us killed lions, tigers, and bears, seeking through the wearing of their hides, teeth, and claws to embody and portray--to appropriate--our strength. IVORY engages viewers in the troubled power relations and devastating effects of the global trade in illegal animal parts as an entry point to the broader extinction crisis. The exhibit features a gallery groaning under the visual and physical weight of 500 life-size blown glass tusks---just twice the average number illegally harvested every day.  A monumental slab of ancient Douglas Fir grounds complementary objects in a time scale spanning human sociocultural evolution. Portraits of imperiled megafauna from the Holocene, our current geological epoch, and those extinct since the Pleistocene, stalk the gallery walls.  Sensitively rendered in ash and tar on wood panels harvested from the very forests that have served as their homes for over 9,000 years, these creatures stare down the viewer and the massed ivory. 

 

I believe we find revelation when we are surrounded by our failings, so that is where I immerse viewers of my art, placing them in direct contact with the history of our kind. All of my work is a metaphor for human interaction. By activating a community to save animals, perhaps we can save each other.

© 2019 By Joseph Rossano