About Compassion Arts Festival

Walk Slowly, Bow Often III

Linnea Ryshke: Walk Slowly, Bow Often III (To Offer Bare Feet)

Compassion Arts Festival 2023 welcomes its eighth year with an event line-up that includes the visual arts, literary arts, storytelling arts, performing arts, a healing arts workshop and this year’s ‘Artists for Ahimsa’.

An all-volunteer collective project since 2015 and virtual festival since 2020, our programs are made possible by the generous sharing of time, services, and artistry by the creative advocates who present their work each year. For more information about our history, Artists for Ahimsa Award, and past presenters, see our ARCHIVES page.

This year's presenters include:

  • Visual Arts: Exhibition Reflections: Animals & Us with artists Jane O'Hara, Janell O'Rourke, Kathryn Eddy, LA Watson, and host Shannon Johnstone
  • Literary Arts: Writers Celebrate More-Than-Human Animals with authors Jennifer Calkins, Marybeth Holleman, Joanna Lilley, Gretchen Primack, Linnea Ryshke, Deb Olin Unferth, and Mandy-Suzanne Wong
  • Storytelling Arts: Animal Story: A Partnered Program with writer Victoria Moran and filmmaker Jusep Moreno
  • Artists for Ahimsa: Celebrating Animals & Artists for Ahimsa featuring Animal Culture Magazine with artist Patricia Denys
  • Healing Arts: Sacred Sendoffs Workshop with Rev. Sarah Bowen



Program descriptions, information, and registration details available here November 1st.

Registration closes 3 hours before each event.


Exhibition Reflections: Animals & Us

Wed, Nov 8th at 7:00–8:30pm EST


Writers Celebrate More-Than-Human Animals

Thur, Nov 9th at 7:00–8:30pm EST


Animal Story, Partnered Program

Fri, Nov 10th at 7:00–8:30pm EST


Celebrating Animals & Artists for Ahimsa

Sat, Nov 11th Pre-recorded program on video 3:00pm EST


Sacred Sendoffs Workshop with Sarah Bowen

Sun, Nov 12th at 3:00-4:30pm EST


Animal Culture Magazine cover

Each year, Compassion Arts Festival selects an artist or project for its Artists for Ahimsa Award, to celebrate advocates using creative artistry to inspire compassion for all animals. Past honorees include Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Allison Argo (2018); photojournalist and We Animals Media founder Jo-Anne McArthur (2019); artist, gallery owner and Best Friends Animal Society co-founder Cyrus Mejia (2020); author, artist and Center for Contemporary Sciences co-founder Dr. Aysha Akhtar (2021).

This year’s Artists for Ahimsa Award 2023 honoree is ANIMAL CULTURE MAGAZINE a powerful creative voice for animals by Patricia Denys (Creative Director), Mary Holmes (Editor), Karlie Kawa (Art Director) and Jeff Brouwer (Associate Art Director), Mark Lukas (Designer). ANIMAL CULTURE MAGAZINE aspires to educate, motivate, and celebrate by featuring articles with artists, writers, and other animal advocates, along with book reviews, humane education, visual culture information, cruelty-free product reviews, plant-based recipes, and legislative alerts. The magazine’s goal is to raise awareness, inspire, and embrace issues about and for animals.

A multi-arts presentation celebrating ANIMAL CULTURE MAGAZINE’S work and the animals who they advocate for, will be shared in a pre-recorded festival program “Celebrating Animals & Artists for Ahimsa” available to view on November 11th.


Linnea Ryshke: To Remain

Linnea Ryshke: Walk Slowly, Bow Often IV

Linnea Ryshke: Effluence

The poignant image gracing our website’s HOME page and representing this year’s festival’s 2023 ‘poster’, is “Cleaved” by artist and writer Linnea Ryshke. An artist, poet, and author of the book “Kindling”, Rhyske creates paintings, drawings, artist books, installations and poetry that seek to restore the value of nonhuman animals as kindred beings worthy of our adoration, respect and empathy. Some examples of her work are shared here, and others can be found at her website.

In her artist’s statement she writes:

Connection, the kind that nourishes the marrow, does not know the bounds of species. I do not risk hyperbole to say that all humans know this truth. From the prolonged relationship of a companion animal to the acute encounters with a neighboring heron, hen or turtle, I relish the moments when I come body to body, being to being with another animal.

But we so often forget this capacity for interspecies connection in a world insistent on marginalizing nonhuman animals. They are commodified as meat, fetishized as zoo animals, demonized as predators or prey for hunting, or castigated as vermin. We have long forgotten how to be in admiration of the fellow beings whose capacities for consciousness, joy, curiosity, resiliency, grief or kindness are beyond what we will ever understand.

My art practice comes a deep longing for a cultural ethic that values nonhumans as siblings rather than objects or automatons. My paintings, drawings and sculptures serve as records of the interactions I have with nonhuman animals—whether at a farm, zoo, pond, or sidewalk. Through image-making, I do not intend to “capture” the animal subject but tactilely feel my way towards them and evoke their elusive presence. Many of the works involve an act of ritual, sustained witness, or a particular ethic involved in making the paintings or drawings. With art uniquely able to touch the softest core of us and, through this means, to make and share meaning between us humans, my work intends to be an open door to invite others in and participate in conceiving another way to relate and care across species lines.

- Linnea Rhyske


When Pigs Escape

Jusep Moreno: When Pigs Escape

Compassion Arts Festival is a virtual program of COMPASSION ARTS which holds year round free programs and online projects that bring people together in creativity and compassion for all life. The Compassion Arts Festival highlights examples of these year round programs in different ways, using festival events to share a sample of both ongoing and developing projects. This year’s festival programs offer a glimpse into work in progress for the Center for Compassion Arts (an online museum and virtual performing arts project in development for Visual Arts, Literary Arts, performing arts) as well as the growth of existing ongoing Partnered Programs like Animal Story and workshops.

We are not a non-profit and do not accept donations. COMPASSION ARTS is an independent all-volunteer initiative of artists, educators, and advocates using creativity to advance compassion for animals and the earth. Our mission and how we work is seeded in the tenets of a philospophy called sacred economics and in holistic non-violence, inspired by groups such as Culture & Animals Foundation Institute for Humane Education, and the former National Museum of Animals and Society, as well as the power of example of visionary sanctuaries and other organizations. We work to provide a platform for people using creativity in peaceful advocacy to reconnect us with the ‘more-than-human’ world, and to reflect deeply on animals and our relationship with them.