Visual Arts

Exhibition Reflections: Animals and Us

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

7:00 - 8:30pm EST

Registration for the Visual Arts program is now Closed.

Please sign up in advance for other festival events!

Three visual arts exhibitions, in different stages of creation, offer a look at animal lives and the complex constructs projected onto other animals by humans.

Exhibition presentations from artist Jane O’Hara for “State of the Union,” and the artists’ coalition ArtAnimalAffect (Janell O’Rourke, Kathryn Eddy and LA Watson) for “Other Nations”, along with Compassion Arts for “Animal Diaspora”, explore the realms of cognitive dissonance, duality, reverence and otherness, to reflect on our relationship with animals both seen and unseen, in and outside the human experience.

The program exhibition presentations will be moderated by photographer and animal advocate Shannon Johnstone, who will also share about her work, as part of hosting the event and in discussion with the featured artists.

State of the Union

Jane O’Hara: State of the Union


ArtAnimalAffect works by Kathryn Eddy, Janell O’Rourke, LA Watson

Jane O’Hara / State of the Union

Jane O'Hara

Jane O’Hara will share a presentation of selected works from her seminal project State of the Union, an exhibition of 51 paintings examining the topic of animal rights across the United States, gathering inspiration from disparate sources, from nostalgic postcard iconography and pop reference, to depicting the animal condition both behind the scenes and in plain sight. State of the Union was shown to high acclaim earlier this year at New Bedford Art Museum, and it is also the subject of O’Hara’s recently published galllery book of the same name.

In O’Hara’s paintings we look from the animals perspective with narratives concerning the deeply problematic human-animal bond. This relationship with animals poses a duality which both intrigues and disturbs the artist— the insensitivity to animals raised in captivity as commodities and the environmentally at risk, at odds with the casting of human traits on our pampered pets who exist in their own unnatural surroundings.

Jane O’Hara is a contemporary American artist, curator and founder of Jane O’Hara Projects (JOP) 2015. JOP utilizes transformational curatorial initiatives, presentations, and publications as a platform to promote a higher level of social awareness about speciesism through the arts and to to ignite compassion in society for all living creatures, including humans and non-human animals. Jane O’Hara’ work is currently represented by The William Scott Gallery In Provincetown, MA.

ArtAnimalAffect / Other Nations


ArtAnimal Affect artists (L-R) LA Watson, Janell O’Rourke, Kathryn Eddy

The artist coalition, ArtAnimalAffect (AAA), made up of eco-feminist artists: Kathryn Eddy, Janell O’Rourke and L.A. Watson, will present an exhibition titled, Other Nations, inspired by a quote from Henry Beston’s book, The Outermost House. In the book, Beston posits that, “animals shall not be measured by man,” and should not be viewed as inferior or incomplete beings, proclaiming, “In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete...They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations...”

ArtAnimalAffect’s mission is to make work that challenges human-centered attitudes about other animals and the earth. By exploring Beston’s thoughts on the sovereignty of non human animals; AAA embraces what theorist Heather Eaton calls our “radical dependency” with all other life. Each of the works in the Other Nations exhibition will explore our "radical dependency," with other-than-human animals, offering counterpoints to the myopic human-centered gaze.

ArtAnimalAffect (AAA) is an interdisciplinary coalition dedicated to bridging art and activism within the field of critical animal studies. Using multi-media such as: video, installation, sound, photography, sculpture, painting and performance, the coalition investigates prevailing concepts about human/animal relationships and offers alternative narratives rooted in a non-anthropocentric vision of the future. By facilitating a diverse array of affective experiences, AAA invites the viewer/listener into intimate moments of exchange, whereby an expanded empathy is possible.

Shannon Johnstone / Host

Shannon Johnstone

Shannon Johnstone’s photographic work deals with themes that reclaim what has been discarded and make visible that which is hidden. Her project, Landfill Dogs, has been featured nationally and internationally, and was most notably on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (2013), and (2014). Her recent project Stardust and Ashes was a Critical Mass Finalist (2017), and her newest work, Roadside Zoo won an Honorable Mention in the International Photography Awards (2021).

Compassion Arts / Animal Diaspora

Compassion Arts logo

Compassion Arts is co-curating a virtual exhibition on the Animal Disapora with artists Jane O’Hara and Janell O’Rourke. The exhibition is the opening visual arts project for an online museum currently in development, the Center for Compassion Arts (CCA) - a virtual visual arts platform for exploring the lives of other animals and reflecting on our relationship with the more-than-human world in works that advocate, educate, and inspire. The Animal Diaspora is a virtual group exhibition that will launch the online museum and serve to reflect CCA’s mission in multiple ways, including offering educational programs and multi-arts virtual events throughout the year, in connection with the topics and artwork that the exhibition explores.

In the Animal Diaspora presentation for Exhibition Reflections: Animals & Us, artists/curators Jane O’Hara and Janell O’Rourke will share an overview of this unique virtual exhibition and what it means, in a conversation with Compassion Arts project development team. Their discussion will offer a glimpse at the project and the role of the exhibition in the new online museum, as well as other related programs in the future for the Center for Compassion Arts.

The Center for Compassion Arts is scheduled to launch next fall as part of the 2024 Compassion Arts Festival. It will feature the Animal Diaspora as a virtual group exhibition.