The Elephant in the Room: Animal as Model

Posted on Friday, February 1, 2019

In this episode of Radio Art Center, the Des Moines Art Center's Director of Marketing and PR Christine Crawford sits down with Curator Laura Burkhalter to discuss the upcoming exhibition The Elephant in the Room: Animal as Model. 

Animals, both wild and domesticated, surround humanity at almost all times. Some of the earliest known art—cave paintings from roughly 65,000 years ago—depict animals and subsequently infer our relationship to them. Artists throughout time have often turned to pets, livestock, service animals, and wild beasts as models, finding inspiration in both their familiarity and alien nature. These creatures offer anatomical studies of tails, wings, trunks, horns, and fur. They give us a view into the worlds uninhabited by humanity. Quite often they stand in for humans, personifying emotions and human social roles in ways that allow us to be more comfortable with the unforgiving way we frequently treat them. The Elephant in the Room recognizes that animals are not human, regardless of how we capture them in art, but offer endless insight into the human condition. 

entirely unexpected