Kenyon Class of ’14, Studio Art major
I love animals, but I also love to eat them. The series Animal Eating is my attempt to explore what this means.
Animals are both endearing and sometimes frightening. Interacting with animals can be a way to interact with life without interacting with people. Yet, I still have no problem eating them. In this series of work, I attempt to figure out this paradox inherent in myself and many other humans.
Meat can be a reminder of death, but also a reminder that we cannot escape from our own human nature, which is, at its core, animal. When we try to pretend we’re not animals and that meat isn’t a body, it can lead to absent minded cruelty. For this reason, I don’t believe it is wrong to hunt for food. Killing something and using its energy to sustain more life is part of being an animal. Hunting and butchering gives us an understanding of where food is coming from and with that understanding comes respect.
I make oil paintings of meat, animals that are now seen entirely as food, and etchings of the process that makes an animal into food, by humans and other animals. With the paintings I aim to recreate the bright and vivid colors and softness in meat that makes it both beautiful and like our own flesh. I use the oil paint for the juices of the meat itself. Veins, fats, muscles of this cut that was once alive and is now food, yet remains the same body. With the etchings I draw the precise details of the killing itself, this moment where one dies and the other continues to live.
In painting and etching there can be precise detail. Oil brings a fuller body and robustness to the lines and colors. This fullness is particularly important in my prints because the style of my lines is very light and delicate. The thicker oil ink helps to ground them and add impact.
I try to create a separate atmosphere for just the work and the viewer. I want the viewer to feel the action taking place; to feel the animals about to move, to imagine picking up the meat to cook and feeling its texture and juices. In this way the viewer can imagine the animal, the act of the death and the appreciation of the meat that comes from it.
– Madeleine Donahue, ‘14