Exploring the Human-Animal Bond
In every project I work on- whether it is a private fine art dog photography commission for a wonderful client and their dogs, or funny book project about dogs named after food, or a moving story-telling collaborative about people living with disease and overcoming the odds through the support of their companions- my intention is always the same: to investigate the mysteries of the human-animal bond. No matter what the parameters of each project, I approach it all with the same deep curiosity about why we as humans are so intensely drawn to canines- and what that drive to bond with them says about us personally.
It seems fairly simple - what is the human-animal bond all about? Animal sciences and contemporary psychology have simultaneously delved deeper into this topic over the past 5-10 years, providing us with a very exciting understanding of the workings of our connection with canines. I am personally fascinated with every aspect of the science behind our bond, but as a portrait artist and an observer what really interests me is how our relationships with our animals serve as a very powerful personality test. The ways in which we treat our animals in turn displays a clear understanding of our deepest selves. This, to me, is simply incredible.
Companion animals help people define themselves against a world that can feel overstimulating and cold, and serve as a physically and (more importantly) mentally stabilizing presence. Our pets have the potential to be simply pets- commodities that are treated more like possessions or toys than true family members- but for many people they are the exact opposite. This goes beyond pets simply being a support system for their humans and providing the power of unconditional love. What I am getting at in my visual research of the human-animal bond is how that singular experience of giving love to a companion animal provides humans with the amazing internal experience of receiving love- an experience that is quite hard to find in the real world in human/human interactions. People identify with their animal's goodness, or with their animal's survival story of making it through the shelter system, or their animal's outgoing personality or empathetic nature. Getting to relate to that allows humans to incorporate those feelings and experiences into their understanding of themselves- which results in this fascinating give and take within the human-animal bond that does not get discussed nearly enough.
This is what I am exploring through my dog portraiture, and what keeps me completely head-over-heels fascinated by my work. I am so intrigued by people, and observing realtionship is such a beautiful way to get to know someone.