I started out as a vegetarian first- I was in college and doing research for a biology/ethics class in the library. I came across some books regarding animal cruelty in laboratories (I don’t remember the titles, but they were older books). This piqued my interest, so I went through a ton of books about slaughterhouses and what really happens to the animals there. I became a vegetarian immediately. Over time, I realized that my consumption of dairy and eggs were still supporting slaughterhouses and cruelty, so I became a vegan. I bought a few vegan guidebooks and cookbooks and was well on my way then. I’ve been a vegan 12 years now.
2. What benefits have you derived from following a vegan diet?
Aside from not having a guilty conscience anymore, I certainly am healthier. I’ve always been into healthy eating and exercise, but being a vegan has upped the ante for me. I’m much more aware of what I’m eating, so I make sure I get my daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, protein, vitamins, etc. I also feel much better after eating- not as tired and -though this sounds weird- “lighter.” Also, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the agonizing migraines I would get ever since I was born, stopped after becoming a vegan. I still get headaches of course, but not as frequently and they are not nearly as painful as my migraines were.
3. Please tell us something about your series of works “In Our Veins”. Do the paintings have a special meaning or message behind them?
As an artist, one of the more influential genres for me has been Surrealism. With my “In Our Veins” series, my style was becoming progressively more surreal, and I was looking to challenge myself technically and conceptually. One of the themes explored with this series is animal welfare. It’s an important issue for me on a personal level, but I also feel that it is a significant part of the future of our environment. They go hand-in-hand. “In Our Veins” explores the connections between all life forms and the process of the life cycle. This includes the interdependence of the human race to each other and to the rest of the animal kingdom, as well as the planet itself. One cannot exist without the other, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we care for each and every living thing. Of course I believe this is important not just for the survival of the planet, but also out of a moral and ethical obligation as well.
One of the “trademarks” seen throughout the series is my depiction of animals. I wanted to emphasize their importance and do away with the notion that animals are “less” than humans. So each animal- be it mammal, bird, etc.- has been endowed with something we consider a “human” quality. For example, some animals such as wolves, have more “human-looking” eyes or the animals are posed in a strong, maybe domineering, manner, or they have a facial expression that could be considered “human.” Above all, even if they are depicted in a state of distress, the animals featured have a strong presence.
4. I am meeting a lot of vegans these days that work in creative fields. Is there something about being vegan that brings out creativity or are creative people naturally more sensitive souls that are therefore more inclined to have compassion towards animals?
I like to think it’s the latter. 🙂 I do believe that as a creative individual, it’s part of your process to not only come up with a new concept or new way of thinking, but to also look at every aspect of that. That type of thinking will certainly influence your everyday life and how you approach things, so I think it’s only natural to become more aware of your own actions.
5. What is coming up for you in 2011? (exhibitions, new works etc..)
I have several exhibitions for 2011- some of which are going on right now. This month I am showing at Brandeis University as part of their “Insatiable: Our Rapacious Appetite for More” exhibition (which runs Jan. 25- March 15, 2011). I’m also showing at the Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery in Reno, Nevada as part of their “MYSELF” exhibition (which opened Jan. 18 and is up through Feb. 18). In addition, I was selected for a juried exhibition at the University of Texas at Tyler for their 26th Annual International Exhibition (also opened Jan. 18 and is up through March 4, 2011). Then later this summer I will be showing at Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans for a group exhibition.
As for new work, I am continuing with the “In Our Veins” series and currently working on new additions. I will be showing the current works (as well as future additions) at Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans for a 3-person exhibition in May, 2012. In the meantime, I will be posting these on my website.
6. What is your wish/vision for the world?
I’d love for everyone to become more aware of their actions and realize how they affect others, the rest of the animal kingdom, and the planet. I’d love for everyone to adopt a stray animal (and get them spayed/neutered!) so that there are no more homeless animals wandering our streets and filling the animal shelters. I’d love for everyone to get along despite any differences in beliefs or culture. I’d like to see a peaceful planet.
7. Anything else you would like to add?
I’m not a great writer nor orator, but my artwork is my preferred form of communication and a way to reach the world. Each of my paintings has a personal meaning, but I also hope that it speaks to its viewer as well. I use my technique (and constantly strive to improve upon it) to catch someone’s attention, but it’s my content that I hope keeps them there, allowing the viewer to essentially have a “conversation” through the painting.
To view more of Amy’s paintings, please see www.amyguidry.com.