Archive for the ‘Relevant’ Category

The best we can do

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Via Americans for the Arts, I drafted a letter to my Senators Cantwell and Murray, as well as to my Congressman Doc Hastings.  Thought I’d share it here, and hopefully inspire some others out there to write in (just head on over to Americans for the Arts and fill out your own! ).  I italicized the text that was generated by the form.
Doc Hastings loves the arts
What Congressman Doc Hastings has never said, but is no doubt thinking.

As a constituent, I hope you will vote against any amendments further cutting the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts during consideration of the FY2011 appropriations package.

Though I agree with Congressman Hastings about the government being far too bloated, completely eliminating any support for the arts is a terrifying prospect.

The grandest cultures that are remembered by history are the ones who funded artists and craftsmen, commissioning and supporting their works. On the other side of the coin, some of the more terrifying cultures of recent centuries suppressed and twisted art to further their own dark philosophies.

Keeping art alive and uncensored in the United States is important.  Though many artworks can be bizarre, many of them might become important future classics that will inform and inspire our populace.

We artists don’t need much to live on.  We are not wasteful, and most of us live in a non-profit world.  The successful among us end up generating wealth for investors and business-owners, and little for ourselves.

As you consider what programs necessarily need trimming or elimination, I hope you go easy on the NEA and the arts. The tiny percentage of federal dollars spent goes a long way in the hands of artists and their patrons, a lot farther than it seems to go with medical care or war.

Thank you!

Some blurbs from Americans for the Arts:

The nonprofit arts industry generates $166.2 billion annually in economic activity, supports 5.7 million full-time equivalent jobs in the arts and related industries, and returns $12.6 billion in federal income taxes. Measured against direct federal cultural spending of about $1.4 billion, that’s a return of nearly nine to one.

Federal funding for the arts leverages private funding. The NEA requires at least a one-to-one match of federal funds from all grant recipients—a match far exceeded by most grantees. On average, each NEA grant leverages at least seven dollars from other state, local, and private sources. Private support cannot match the leveraging role of government cultural funding.

Oh, bother.

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010


HOORAY! I finished another piece! And I’m not talking about the exuberant firefly above, she is a little thank you present I whipped up for my summer zoo camp boss. I threw her in to counter the mood of my new drawing, Oh Bother.

aka eeyorelephant

Oh Bother

Aw, it’s Eeyore!  Except as an Elephant!  Eeyorelephant! But what’s he doing with that wire? Why did he sever his own trunk, and why are his legs so stitched up?

This was about the most digestible way I thought I could illustrate the horrific phenomenon of elephants triggering poacher snares.  The wire snares dig into their legs (here’s a mildly graphic pic of an elephant with scarred legs from, and often in the animal’s attempts to remove the snare they can cut into or even sever their trunks.  It’s horrible business.

I became aware of it by watching a clever elephant successfully removing a snare in the following video:

Apparently it’s not always maiming and death for them, as they are remarkably intelligent.

If you’re hungry for more poacher snare art, apparently if you head to the airport in Zambia you can scoop up jewelry made from gathered snares.  It’s the idea of a co-op called Community Markets for Conservation, who encourage locals to trade snares and firearms for training in a variety of skills to improve their lives.  You can read more here at

Thomson Tembo in Snarewear, from

Radiolab’s Animal Minds

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Anyone interested in the content of my King Sapiens lecture should definitely download/stream WNYC’s Radiolab episode about the sentience of animals (or, specifically, animals that aren’t us), and whether we can ever truly experience the same emotional event with them.

Credit: Photo by Kelly Carmody

Credit: Photo by Kelly Carmody

Octopus’ Car and Home

Monday, December 14th, 2009

The veined octopus will wrap itself around a coconut half and use its structure to prop itself up on the tips of its tentacles, and then runs away to make it his home.  Another example of octopus tool use! The other famous example is the male blanket octopus which wields jellyfish stingers as defensive weapons.

Take a look at BBC to find out more about the octopus and his coconut!

Thanks for the scoop, Rim.

Compassionate Parrot?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

I wouldn’t usually share a silly internet vid on my professional blog, but this particular one directly relates to my animated lecture “Tale of King Sapiens

Lookit that! A parrot is very deliberately gently petting the cat!  It’s possible this is simply mimicry, but there’s an undeniable quality of affection that hints at the depths of a parrot’s cognitive capacity, and perhaps its spirit. But, again, it is very easy for us humans to anthropomorphize the actions of pets and see more than there really is.

In any case, incredible.