The True Art of the Elephant

Rama, an Asian elephant in the Oregon Zoo, trained to paint. And I thought my art college years were rough!

Maybe you have seen the videos circulating on the web or You Tube of the elephants who paint pictures. I've always found it disturbing and quite unnatural, yet amazed (well, maybe not so amazed 'cos I know how highly intelligent they are) at their ability to memorize certain strokes in a certain stacking order that add up to a recognizable image~like an elephant painting a clearly defined image of an elephant. Others are allowed to paint freely in an "abstract expressionist" way. The Elephant Sanctuary, whose mission I've long admired and support, has released this statement in their latest newsletter, and summarizes it well:

"Tarra's Art Will No Longer Be Sold
With the recent exploitation of young elephants in Asia for high dollar paintings, and the news that baby elephants are being removed from the Lek Chailart's sanctuary -- The Elephant Nature Park in Thailand -- in order to be trained to paint, we feel it is important that we do not confuse the issue by selling Tarra's art on our site. Although Tarra has not painted in more than a decade, reproductions of her artwork have been on sale in our gift shop. The Elephant Sanctuary will no longer be selling Tarra's art, Tarra's Art Cards, or the video/DVD of Tarra painting. We encourage a close examination of the reality of the lives of those elephants who are enslaved to turn a profit by painting." ~ the Elephant Sanctuary

To my eyes, the elephant in and of itself, is a masterpiece. And a life lived in freedom is the true art.

Photograph: Steve Bloom/Getty Images


Kingfisher Farm said...

I wholeheartedly agree! Pam

Peng Peng said...

hi p,
thanks girl!

Jo James said...

Here, here!
Well said.