Jun 30 2011

#61 “There’s Strength in Numbers”

From Pauline

While you examine this illustration, please consider these aphorisms:

Individually, the drops of water that fall from the sky are capable of no great feat, but combined into a mighty torrent, their power is unmatched.

A single note may be capable of eliciting an emotional response, but this is minuscule when compared to the soul-stirring strength of an entire symphony.

There is potential in a word, but a book of them arranged in the proper order can move mountains and change the course of history.

A single leaf can be crumpled in the palm of a child, but thousands of them overhead have the potential to blot out the rays of the sun, the heavenly body around which our own world revolves.

A single grain of sand may easily go unnoticed by the human eye, but gather up enough of them and you can create a foundation strong enough to support an entire human body… or the strength to bury one.

Each second that passes may seem of no consequence, but when taken together… a lifetime of wonder may be created.

And finally, a single character typed into a word processor may hold no great significance, but arranged in the correct order, a series of them can transform miraculously into the image of one of the most amazing creatures known to man. You see, with this unique illustration, Pauline was not merely content to deliver an average or predictable representation of the lupine. She chose instead to make a larger statement about the power of unity and the importance of strength in numbers. The lesson, my friends, is universal. Whether wolf or human, we must all realize that despite our individual talents or abilities, our power can only be amplified when we work in collaboration with others.


Jun 29 2011

#60 “The Third Eye”

From a stranger in Raleigh, North Carolina

If you are a student of beauty and wisdom, you no doubt realize that these traits are capable of revealing themselves in a variety of unorthodox ways. Such is the case with today’s wolf. While the third eye perched ominously on the forehead may give the creature a somewhat foreboding look, it is actually a sign of spiritual enlightenment and clairvoyance.

In a variety of cultures, the representation of a third eye has been associated with a deep psychological significance: the bearer is usually able to perform such tasks as observing and interpreting auras or chakras. This visionary talent has resulted in the bearer of the third eye being often referred to as a “seer.” While teachings regarding the third eye are most prevalent in Hinduism and Buddhism, there are beliefs associated with it that stretch from Mormonism to Japanese martial arts.

What information is this clairvoyant wolf privy to? What does he see in that mind’s eye of his? What higher worlds is he connected with?

So often, we as humans imagine ourselves as the most enlightened beings in this world, but what if this notion is completely false? What if all our technology, advancements, culture, and modern amenities really only serve to separate us from an intrinsic connection to the universe that wild animals innately possess? It may be scary, but maybe we can learn something from this wolf. Maybe he can reveal something to us that goes beyond our tainted view of the world that is clouded with luxury and entertainment.

The journey may not be an easy one, but come, take my hand, let’s take the first step together…


Jun 28 2011

#59 “A tough nut to crack…”

From the_disability

At first when I began to show this picture to friends and family members, no one had a clue of what to make of it. While the details of the picture can be effortlessly assessed on a surface level, formulating a meaningful interpretation of the individual elements has proven to be nearly impossible. I searched and searched, but no one could offer any substantial clues. After a while, though, I realized that I was asking others to interpret this picture more than I was actually trying to interpret it, myself.

At this point, I locked myself in the crawl space underneath my home with only this illustration, 8 ounces of tap water for sustenance, my childhood Ouiji Board, and a tuft of wolf fur that I received as a gift from a Shaman in 1998 on a trip to Bhangarh, the most haunted place in India. The cave crickets and spiders proved to be a distraction at first, but 6 days later, I emerged from the crawl space dazed and disoriented but with what I feel is a true interpretation of this illustration.

During the time spent in isolation, I began to realize that this drawing is rich in symbolism, but the first aspect of the picture that I examined was the text. Since the drawing was mailed to me, I assumed that the words written to me personally. This seemed to conflict with the picture, seeing as how the wolf is spinning the plates and I am not. Then, though, I realized that the wolf is actually supposed to symbolize myself: the collector of the wolves. It is true that this project has become an activity and a process that very much resembles the act of spinning multiple plates. There are so many different aspects of this growing social experiment that need constant attention. These activities include updating the facebook page, sharing relevant information via twitter, responding to emails, writing and scheduling posts, advertising for new pictures, etc., etc. Please do not interpret this list of responsibilities as a complaint. It surely is not. In fact, it is a blessing, and it is the life that I have chosen for myself. But it is quite a bit of work to keep up with.

When I successfully interpreted this message delivered to me by the_disability, I was uplifted by its encouragement and positivity. But I soon became confused again. Why would this artist deliver this motivational message but then picture the wolf (me) naked with only censorship bars to cover the most private of body parts? Then it struck me: this is, in fact, the perfect representation of my actions as the wolf collector, the alphastranger, the lover of the lupine. For you see, my friends, in these posts I am both hidden as well as exposed. The words that I share are often soul-bearing ones that give great insight into this wolf-filled life that I lead. In many ways, I have stripped down before you to share with you the most intimate parts of myself. But in another way, my anonymity enables me to remain more or less a mystery to the vast majority of my readers. I am naked. I am clothed. I am bare. I am exposed. I am unseen.

Thank you, the_disability. I’m not sure if you had anticipated my ability to break this complicated code, but I have triumphed nonetheless. I always appreciate the opportunity to take another step on that difficult journey of self-actualization, and with your help through this illustration, I feel as if I have come to know myself all the more. Truly this illustration will forever serve as a mirror for my soul.


Jun 27 2011

#58 “Romanticism”

From Elaine in Jacksonsville, FL

I would like to start off by quickly addressing this illustrator’s self-deprecating comments about her own artistry, but I won’t spend much time on this subject because we can all see that the artwork is amazing. In short, try not to be so hard on yourself, Elaine, your work is both artistically and thematically impressive.

When we as humans examine nature as a whole or in general, we often view ourselves as creatures that live either in separation from it or in opposition to it. But a question that we don’t ever consider is how animals, themselves, view the natural world around them. It is doubtless that they feel a much greater level of harmony than we do, but do they have an actual aesthetic appreciation for it? I believe that they can and that they do and that this illustration serves well as a rendering of this concept.

Notice the coy smile perched upon the snout of this wolf’s face as he gazes down into the grinning countenance of this beautiful little flower. He obviously appreciates the loveliness of this flower and the magnificent adornment to Mother Nature that it provides. All of this is taking place while the benevolent sun shines down lovingly from above. It make my heart leap with joy. Hmmmm… that reminds me… this picture is surprisingly similar to one of the most famous nature poems of all time: “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud” by William Wordsworth.

I won’t bore you with details of Wordworth’s life or work, but suffice it to say that he revolutionized poetry by single-handedly launching the Romantic time period in British Literature and is widely accepted as England’s greatest nature poet.

Read this poem for yourself and see if you find the connection as well.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o’er vales and hills
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host, of golden daffodils;
beside the lake, beneath the trees,
fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the milky way,
they stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
a poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed- and gazed- but little thought
what wealth the show to me and brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
in vacant or in pensive mood,
they flash upon that inward eye
which is the bliss of solitude;
and then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils.


Jun 26 2011

#57 “Wolf vs. T-Rex”

From a stranger somewhere in the U.S.

Let’s face it, conflict is a part of life. Whether it be with others (interpersonal) or with ourselves (intrapersonal), we are all engaged in conflict in some way on nearly a daily basis. While we largely claim that we don’t like conflict, it is undeniable that we find it interesting. In truth, we thrive on conflict. We love it. It intrigues us. Not only do we academically discuss why conflict occurs and how to avoid it and deal with it, but if we are really truthful with ourselves, most of us will admit that we sometimes even enjoy stirring up contention in the lives of others; and this includes our friends as well as our enemies.

Additionally, in this day and age, observing conflict has literally become a central part of many forms of entertainment. One of the reasons why we love reality television so much is because it focuses (almost exclusively in some cases) on interpersonal discord. Is this a problem? I’m not really sure, but it certainly seems to be true.

I will admit that I am addicted to conflict in my own life, in some very large as well as very small ways. An example of one of those minor ways is the fact that I have just recently become enamored with a television show called “The Deadliest Warrior.” The premise of the show is not simply about conflict; it actually comprises the show in its entirety. You see, every episode focuses on fictionally pitting warriors from various cultures and time periods against one another and discovering (based on physical prowess, weaponry and skills) which warrior would prevail in a battle to the death.

Overall, “The Deadliest Warrior” can be a bit cheesy and far-fetched at times, but the analysis of much of the weaponry seems fairly accurate. I especially enjoying watching the damage that the weapons experts are able to inflict upon the blood-packed ballistic dummies that are often used during demonstrations. Yes, the love of gratuitous violence did not pass me by.

I mention all of this simply to say that this fantastically creative postcard brings to mind this interesting concept of speculating the victor in a conflict between unusual combatants. The only difference here is that the subjects are animals and not human warriors.

So who would win in a battle between the gigantic Tyrannosaurus Rex and the small but ferocious wolf? The answer may seem obvious, but if there is anything that I have learned from “TDW” it is that brute strength and physical prowess doesn’t always triumph over an advanced skill set of offensive techniques. This was recently displayed in a simulated engagement between a Maori Warrior and a Shaolin Monk. Although the deciding factor in this fight was most likely the use of steel weapons by the monks, I had foolishly assumed that the brute force of the Maori Warrior would prevail. Ultimately, I was disappointed, and the discipline, training and intellect of the monk made him the warrior triumphant.

So once again, who would win in a fight to the death between the terrible T-Rex and the wily wolf? I still haven’t weighed all of the data, but I don’t think we should jump to any conclusions. If nothing else, this piece has certainly given us something to “chew on.”


Jun 25 2011

#56 “Winston Wolfe”

I made the video myself, but the illustration at the end was submitted by a stranger in Poway, California.

I believe that the last name is actually spelled without the “e” on the end, but ultimately I just chose to go with the illustrator’s spelling for the sake of unity.

Enjoy!

 


Jun 24 2011

#55 “Friday Wolf”

From a stranger in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Since it’s Friday today, I thought I might as well display a wolf that was drawn on a Friday.

You know, it’s interesting how the days of the week can develop a specific feeling that accompanies them. But what is perhaps even more interesting is to explore whether or not specific days have a universal feeling that permeates everyone in a given culture.

For example, there is a specific feeling that wells up inside of me on Tuesdays. I’m not really sure how to explain it, but there exists a certain “Tuesday feeling” that I find familiar and am well accustomed to. But is this the same feeling that you experience when you awake on the average Tuesday morning? I’m not sure. How could we even tell? I suppose we could separately make a list of adjectives to describe this feeling and then compare the list, but even then… If we both wrote the word “peaceful,” how would we possibly know whether or not each person’s sense of peace is comparable? Maybe your sense of “peace” is different from mine.

Moving on…

I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with the artist behind this illustration simply because she used wolf-themed stationary as her canvas and sent her work in an accompanying wolf envelope. When I opened the P.O. box and saw that beautiful package lying there in front of me, I knew that I was in for something special. And even though this artist calls her own wolf and “abomination,” I think we can all agree that this artist thoroughly undervalues her own work. In order to show my appreciation for the submission, I wrote back to this talented artist; and based upon the response that she posted on reddit.com, I think that she was pleased with my reply.

In conclusion, it is Friday today, and I’m sure that feels good to all of us. But why not make the day even better by taking a time out to get in touch with your inner child? Why not draw a wolf?

Shirk your work today and send your wolf artwork to…

Wolves by Strangers
P.O. Box 17417
Chattanooga, TN 37415


Jun 23 2011

#54 “Gem’s Gem”

From Gem Crombleholme

On the day that this wolf found its way to my email address, the temperature here in Chattanooga was in mid-90s and the humidity was somewhere between 70% and 80%. Needless to say, when I clicked that little inbox button and this wolf popped up before me, I felt a cool phantom breeze flow through the screen and wash over me. I could tell by the thickness of the wolf’s coat and the white fluffy snow underfoot that this wolf had come to me from some near-arctic region and had brought with it a cool wind of relief.

By examining the illustrator’s site and conversing briefly via email, I became very impressed with the work of the artist. Her name is Gem Crombleholme, and you can access her site here. As it turns out, Gem drew this wolf as part of a book project in which she produced one animal for each letter of the alphabet. What is even more impressive is that each of these fantastic illustrations was completed in just a couple of hours. It’s enough to make one jealous.

Overall, her works are vibrant and playful and present a unique creativity and an inherent truthfulness that make them instantly endearing. They possess that intangible quality which allows them to enthrall children but also hold the attention of adults. If you don’t believe me, check out her post on June 8th, entitled “A Rabbit’s Life.” Ultimately, I believe that Gem’s work displays the idea that there is no such thing as art that is strictly for children or for adults. Every person who is able to see, hear, smell, taste or touch has the capacity to know and appreciate aesthetic beauty in some form, and each person’s appreciation is unique and different. We shouldn’t discriminate or judge works based on a faulty system of a perceived audience. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, whether he be merely 2 years old or 102, but in the end, I think there is one thing we can all agree on: This wolf truly scores an “A” for “Awesome.”


Jun 22 2011

#53 “Big Carrot?”

From a stranger in New York, NY.

Ok. I’ll bite. I’ll ask the obvious question: Why is this wolf so excited about a giant carrot?

I have spent a fair amount of time exploring the eating habits of wolves, and from what I have read, the list below pretty well sums up almost the entire spectrum of a wolf’s diet.

A wolf will feast upon rabbits, voles, earthworms, berries, grasshoppers, mice, birds, fish, fox, carrion, deer, elk, deer, caribou, musk oxen, moose, beavers, hares, muskrats, lemmings, raccoons, shrews, woodchucks, shellfish, ground squirrels, porcupines, skunks, cats, otters, bear cubs, bison, gazelle, fruit, eggs, and its own vomit.

…but apparently not carrots.

Now, since a wolf will eat fruits and berries, I am assuming that one would also eat a carrot if given the opportunity, but it would probably be unlikely that a wolf would encounter a carrot since they grow under the earth.

I guess this is just another WBS mystery, but as is often the case with any mystery, theories to explain the phenomena must be formulated. As a result, the list below represents my top 5 attempts to explain this picture.

1. This wolf is merely a small cub who has encountered an average-sized carrot that was dug up by another creature, and thus the carrot appears very large in comparison to the very small wolf.

2. The carrot is actually a person dressed in a novelty carrot suit who is about to be consumed by the wolf.

3. The wolf has consumed some sort of mind-altering drug and is hallucinating.

4. This picture simply represents an anomalous situation in which a wolf somehow does encounter a giant carrot and should be taken at face value.

5. This picture is simply a clever enigma designed by the artist for the sole purpose of causing the viewer confusion.

Any other ideas? Feel free to share…

 


Jun 21 2011

#52 “At Peace…”

From Paul in Seattle, Washington.

While it may be thrilling to examine illustrations of the wolf as it strikes a defensive pose or launches in for an offensive attack on a prey, there is also an undeniable joy t0 be gained by viewing this peaceful, sleeping wolf. This is certainly a side of the natural predator that we don’t see very often, but this doesn’t mean that it is less true or less valid than the other, more aggressive sides of the wolf that we may be more familiar with.

Through some brief email correspondence with Paul, I learned that his girlfriend is a veterinarian and that she had volunteered to display some WBS flyers at her place of business. Upon hearing this, I knew instantly that this couple held a special place in their hearts for all animals and that they viewed our wild brethren through a lens of love rather than aggression. If today you are overwhelmed with the slings and arrows of this life that so often bring us down or you feel more like the helpless prey than the bold predator, I hope your eyes will fall upon this illustration and it will bring you peace.

For while it is true that security and beauty can abide in strength, there is a power that lies in peace as well.

Thank you, Paul, for bringing this to our attention.


Jun 20 2011

#51 “Zero Tolerance”

From Jennifer at the University of Georgia.

Dear Jennifer,

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for the contribution of your wolf illustration. Every single picture that I receive is valuable and special in its own way, and all wolves are equal in my eyes.

Ok. Now that that’s over with I am going to severely scold you for what I believe is a blatant case of plagiarism. Come on, Jennifer, you’re a student at the prestigious University of Georgia. Surely your professors would not stand for you to take shortcuts such as this. It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t a very talented artist; all that I’m asking for is that you put forth your best effort. Now really, Jennifer, does that sound too hard? I didn’t think so.

I know you might be wondering how I knew this picture was not an original. Well, it wasn’t too difficult. By calling upon my vast knowledge of wolf illustrations, I instantly knew that this picture looked familiar. Also, I noticed that the construction of the lines seemed seemed slightly irregular, almost as though they had been traced. From there, it was only a matter of conducting a simple Google search, and within seconds I had stumbled upon the image displayed below.

You know this isn’t the kind of work you want to be known for. I am going to let you off with a warning this time, but I don’t want you to forget this conversation. And of course, I’ll be expecting you to “redo” this assignment.

Sincerely,

Dr. “J”

 


Jun 19 2011

#50 “Airwolf”

From Jason in Georgia.

A couple of days ago I posted a picture from Tam in the UK that referenced the American television show Airwolf (1984-1987). Today’s artful illustration from Jason in Georgia takes its inspiration from the same source. I must admit that I was not familiar with this television series before receiving these pictures, and it is a complete mystery to me as to how I could have missed this “far out” tv series. Having grown up during the time period that the show aired, it seems that I would at least have heard of it, but nonetheless, these illustrations struck no immediate chord with me, and as a result I was forced to research the television show online.

My original plan for this post had been to discuss some of the details of the series, but after listening to the theme song a few times, I realized that this musical masterpiece is where my focus should lie. You see, I have recently become completely enamored with synthesized music from the 1980s and modern music of the same style which is inspired by this time period. This song represents everything I love about this genre of music. It contains strong repeating themes with slight variation and a heavy percussive beat, it is highly synthesized, it contains ominous drones but also features inspirational and optimistic high notes, and finally it simply makes me want to speed down the interstate in a muscle car wearing a white blazer/pastel t-shirt combo paired with dark aviator sunglasses.

Going back to the illustration for a moment, you can see how the picture goes hand in hand with the Airwolf theme song and everything else we hold true about this fantastic decade: the wolf’s strong body language and cocky smirk is reminiscent of the “Me” generation, while the coolly authoritative uniform displays classic 1980s machismo and an emphasis on presenting oneself as “rad” and “boss.” Also, even though this picture is in black and white, it is speaks of the action and drama that defined 1980s entertainment.

This picture is truly the perfect complement to this awesome television show theme song.

On another note, before this post is concluded, I want to share with you a short list of some of my favorite modern songs that seem to be inspired by the music and culture of the 80s. If you like the Airwolf theme song below, check out these other hip tracks as well:

FM Attack: “Old School Daze” and “Dreamer”

Anoraak: “Cloud Rain Love”

College: “Teenage Color”

Electric Youth: “Faces” (From the Valerie and Friends album)

Futurecop!: “Tonight’s Hero”

Grum: “Through the Night” and “Cybernetic”

Kavinsky: “Wayfarer” and “Testarossa Autodrive”

Lazerhawk: “Overdrive”


Jun 18 2011

#49 “The Lesson”

From a stranger in Canada.

It is undeniable that the natural order of the world is largely based upon systematic violence and ferocity. The food chain. Predator vs. Prey. These elements are savage and unpleasant at times, but they are natural and necessary. All around us, even in our most civilized communities, just outside our doors, the fight for survival is taking place; but in this day and age it largely goes unnoticed by us. Why don’t we pay more attention to the savagery and carnage of the natural world that pits creature against creature? Well, simply because it IS natural, I suppose.

We know that this is simply how the world works. However, when it comes to the human race, certain “moral” standards and social norms have developed that we believe separate us from the baser creatures with whom we share this planet. But sometimes things do go awry. Sometimes we cast of the facade of civilization that we believe separates from the animal kingdom and we revert back to the savagery that is found in the forests and jungles and oceans surround us on all sides. When this happens, we are disappointed that we have not lived up to our own standards and we attempt to learn from our mistakes. In order to gain wisdom from our own errors, we often tell stories or fables that simplify matters and are easy to remember. Some stories are optimistic about civilization while others are pessimistic, but that is beside the point.

What is really interesting is to examine who these stories often feature as the primary characters. You guessed it: Animals.

Upon examining the illustration above, I was reminded of the wonderful fable by James Thurber that is reproduced below. I hope you enjoy it.

“The Rabbits That Caused All The Trouble” by James Thurber

Within the memory of the youngest child there was a family of rabbits who lived near a pack of wolves. The wolves announced that they did not like the way the rabbits were living. (The wolves were crazy about the way they themselves were living, because it was the only way to live.) One night several wolves were killed in an earthquake and this was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that rabbits pound on the ground with their hind legs and cause earthquakes. On another night one of the other wolves was killed by a bolt of lightning and this was also blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that lettuce-eaters cause lightning. The wolves threatened to civilize the rabbits if they didn’t behave, and the rabbits decided to run away to a desert island. But the other animals, who lived at a great distance, shamed them saying, “You must stay where you are and be brave. This is no world for escapists. If the wolves attack you, we will come to your aid in all probability.” So the rabbits continued to live near the wolves and one day there was a terrible flood which drowned a great many wolves. This was blamed on the rabbits, for it is well known that carrot-nibblers with long ears cause floods. The wolves descended on the rabbits, for their own good, and imprisoned them in a dark cave, for their own protection.

When nothing was heard about the rabbits for some weeks, the other animals demanded to know what happened to them. The wolves replied that the rabbits had been eaten and since they had been eaten the affair was a purely internal matter. But the other animals warned that they might possibly unite against the wolves unless some reason was given for the destruction of the rabbits. So the wolves gave them one. “They were trying to escape,” said the wolves, “and, as you know this is no world for escapists.”

Moral: Run, don’t walk, to the nearest desert island.

 


Jun 17 2011

#48 “Echoes”

From a stranger in Utica, New York.

The act of calling out over a cliff or precipice and hearing our own eery and exciting echo is something that I think we all can identify with. We’ve all done it, whether it we were sitting in an empty bathroom or standing on the edge of the grand canyon. We’ve all called out to hear our voice come back to us, to hear it resonate and permeate our environment.

It is believed that wolves perch themselves upon promontories and howl in order to communicate over great distances. But why do we as people call or shout out from cliff tops when we have the opportunity? Is it a narcissistic act designs to simply allow us to hear our own voice? Or is there something deeper that we are subconsciously trying to achieve?

I’m not really sure what the answer to this question is, but examining the illustration above and considering this concept brings to mind one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost called “The Most of It.” In the poem, a boy calls out from a cliffside, seeking some sort of response from the universe. As the boy cries out, the speaker says that the only response he receives is the sound and image of a great buck that comes splashing through the water below and then climbs upon the bank, pouring water from its coat. The buck then crashes through the undergrowth. At the end of the poem, the reader is left wondering what to make of this scene. Was the appearance of the buck the result of a conscious decision on the part of the universe to let the boy know that he was not alone? Or was this perhaps a random event that could only reinforce the boy’s fears that he is a stranger in this primeval world?

Take a look at the poem and decide for yourself.

“The Most of It” by Robert Frost

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree–hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder–broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter–love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.

 


Jun 16 2011

#47 “The UK Couple”

From Tam and Louise in the UK.

I love it when the Wolves by Strangers project brings people together, and in the case of the two pictures that are on display today, I take great pleasure in the fact that a young engaged couple in the UK chose to take a break from the chaos of wedding planning to produce these wonderful illustrations. An email that I received from Tam informed me of the couple’s upcoming nuptials, and I am sure that I speak for everyone reading this when I wish them a life full of happiness and wedded bliss.

Keeping in mind that these wolves were drawn by an engaged couple, I love looking at these pictures and noticing what they inherently suggest about the differences between the sexes.

First examine Louise’s picture: Notice the beautifully dainty features of the bride wolf, how she is adorned with jewelry meant to enhance the natural attractiveness of her features. Her lashes and whiskers are long and inviting, and she is no doubt flashing them about in an effort to entice her groom to desire her even more. She is a prize to be won, a masterpiece of beauty to be kept pure and sacred, a wonderful gift that is worth dying for.

Now notice Tam’s picture: See how he chooses to focus on an American television show whose storyline dealt with a military helicopter that was often engaged in missions of espionage. The wolf’s teeth are sharp and menacing; the eyes are wild in exciting. There is movement, action and adventure in this picture. It is exciting and dangerous and speaks of his inherent desire to be the conqueror and the hero.

These pictures are fundamentally different. But what does this mean? Does this lack of congruency mean that this couple is meant for disaster? Certainly not. If anything, I believe these pictures display a couple that is destined for a lifetime of happiness. I don’t want to adhere to outdated sexual stereotypes, but I do believe that there is a part of every woman that wants to be desired and a part of every man that longs to be the hero and the protector. These features don’t define us as men and women, but they also cannot be denied as a fundamental part of our respective natures, and perhaps an understanding of our fundamental differences will bring us closer together…

Congratulations again, Tam and Louise.


Jun 15 2011

#46 “Princess Mononoke”

From Katy in Chattanooga, Tennessee

To be honest, I had never heard of Princess Mononoke before I laid eyes upon this illustration. In saying that, I know that there are some of you gasping in shock and horror right now while others of you are scratching your heads in confusion. For those of you who don’t know, it appears that Princess Mononoke is a Japanese anime film which has been hugely successful both at home as well as here in the states. In fact, Roger Ebert even listed it as one of his top ten films of the year in 1999 when it was released in America. In Japan and abroad the film has received numerous awards and was supposedly the top-grossing film in Japan untilTitanic came along.

Anyway, I don’t want to give too much of the storyline away, but I will tell you that Princess Mononoke is a character in the movie (also known as San), who was raised by wolves. This instantly drew me to the story, but what I found most intriguing is that the film closely adheres to the famous “monomyth”  or “hero’s journey” format that is described by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 bookThe Hero with a Thousand Faces.

According to Campbell, all great epic tales consist of a series of about 17 specific elements that include titles such as “The Call to Adventure,” “The Road of Trials,” “The Ultimate Boon,” and so on. In many ways, I really agree with Campbell’s theory because many of our most popular stories from yesteryear and today truly do fit this format. Example range from classics such as The Illiad and The Odyssey to modern day blockbusters like Star WarsThe Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

As is often the case, the elements of the monomyth appear to get a little mixed up and switched around in Princess Mononoke, and from the little that I know about the story, the character of San could be viewed as either a “helper,” a “test,” or a “temptress” to the protagonist who is known as Ashitaka.

If you would like to read more about the monomyth, there is kind of simplified version of it available at this site: http://orias.berkeley.edu/hero/


Jun 14 2011

#45 “Just Howl”

From Mr. Wolf in Baltimore, Maryland.

First of all, let me state up front that I clearly understand why someone who contributes to this project would want to keep their identity a secret. I won’t get into all the details, but I think we all realize (myself included) that the premise of this social experiment is a bit unusual. Also, in most of my advertising campaigns, I haven’t made it exactly clear for what purpose I am collecting the pictures, so there are those that may have some understandable concerns.

Besides these notions, though, there is also the obvious factor that this project is named “Wolves by Strangers.” So in many ways, anonymity is a major factor in this experiment, if not an essential one.

With all that being said, I still can’t get over the irony of someone contributing a photocopy of a business card with name blacked out. The expressed purpose of business cards is to draw as much attention as possible to the individual or business featured on the card, thus it is a bit humorous to encounter one that delivers more questions than answers.

As stated earlier, though, I can’t fault the contributor for this decision; and ultimately I have spent an enjoyable and considerable amount of time theorizing about who this person is and what line of work he is involved in. I first thought that perhaps his business may be somewhat casual or informal. I drew this conclusion based upon the idea that including a picture of a wolf on your business card may not be viewed as “professional” in some circles. I would fundamentally disagree with this notion, but then again I have always been a bit of an outcast in the business world.

After some more thought, however, I began to suppose that perhaps this man is employed in a field that is extremely formal, serious, and official. After all, if you wish to create a memorable business card as well as instill confidence in your clients, what better graphic to add than one of a fierce and uncompromising wolf? Perhaps this man is a lawyer or business executive and the wolf represents professional ferocity and a wild but upfront nature. Perhaps the man is simply employed in some field related to wildlife management, maybe even in the political realm of this field. Maybe he is a family counselor, and the wolf is meant to inspire the idea of the unified family unit or “pack.” Or possibly the illustration is meant to point to the fact that this man is a stealthy “lone wolf” and is employed perhaps as a private investigator.

Surely there is someone out there who knows the answer to this perplexing question, but for now, I think I would like to keep this little mystery as it is.

So here’s to you, Mr. Wolf. I don’t know who you are or what you do, but if I am ever in a dire situation with no one else to call, I will simply raise my head into the starry midnight sky and give a loud, long, lupine howl and perhaps you really will hear my call. Then we will finally be united and all will be right with the world.

Until then,

“J”


Jun 13 2011

#44 “Masterpiece by Macedo”

From Luis Felipe Macedo.

If you visit this site frequently and have an appreciation for the art that is displayed here, you are probably also familiar with a site called deviantart.com which displays unique artwork from established and aspiring artists from all over the world. On another note, a slightly less popular site that you may not be familiar with is called fiverr.com. It is here that individuals sell goods and services for a flat rate of 5 bucks.

What do these two sites have in common? They both feature artwork by a very talented individual named Luis Felipe Macedo.

On a whim, I just happened to be perusing the art section of fiverr a few weeks ago when I noticed an ad by Luis, offering to produce original pieces of art for individuals. I was then directed to his gallery on deviantart.com, and I must tell you that I have become quite taken with his talent. Through a short discourse, Luis generously offered to donate an original illustration to the Wolves by Strangers project, and thus we have the breathtaking piece that is on display today.

I asked Luis if he would like to compose the commentary for today’s post or offer any suggestions. In response he simply stated that he believed the art should speak for itself, and I must say that I agree. There are few words that could accurately reflect or sum up this lupine masterpiece. If you check out the links below and examine some of Macedo’s other artwork, you will find that all of his work is of this same caliber. He possesses a keen eye for perspective and angles that often give the viewer a unique point of view into the world of his illustrations. Additionally, his grasp of color and texture are so masterful that they successfully hold the viewer’s attention firmly and create some really cool pieces. Finally, there is an intangible feature to most of his art that is truly appealing but difficult to describe. The only way that I can explain it is like this: His work often contains elements that are fantastical and exaggerated, but at the same time there is an emotive quality to his characters and their expressions that is relatable and easy to identify with. As a result his artwork possesses both a foreign and familiar feel that nearly everyone can relate to.

Thanks again, Luis. You really are a class act.

If you would like to check out more of Luis’s artwork or purchase some of your own, check out these links: Fiverr and Deviantart.


Jun 12 2011

#43 “Deceptiwolf”

From Hanz in Belgium.

According to the artist’s note printed on the back of this illustration, the picture was created from a solid block of color which was then edited and pared down until ultimately the image of a wolf became somewhat visible. With the recent rise in interest in “old school” 8-bit video games and their accompanying artwork, I was not surprised to receive a wolf illustration that was constructed in this manner, but I was still very excited when I opened the envelope and laid eyes upon this unique Belgian masterpiece. I immediately went home and celebrated with a large plate of waffles.

Having consumed my meal peacefully and pleasurably, I pushed back my plate and picked up the illustration to again examine its wondrous beauty. It was then, my friends, that my stomach began to turn. A sour taste filled my mouth, and I became startlingly dizzy. The plate crashed to the floor as I cleared the table and stared in horrific wonder at this haunting masterpiece. If you read post #41 from a couple of days ago which featured a wolf flying an F-16, you will surely understand my reaction. For today’s picture doesn’t just feature a wolf using modern technology or operating a manmade machine. This wolf IS a machine.

If I can see it, surely you can, as well. I know that I am not one to keep up with the more popular trends in pop culture, but I can still clearly remember the Transformer Decepticons from my youth and recognize one when I see it today. Friends, the end is near. The dreaded Deceptiwolf is upon us. Don’t believe me? Compare the illustration above with the picture below and see for yourselves.

Now… Run! Run for your lives! Save yourselves… while you still can… Decaptiwolf is on the move…


Jun 11 2011

#42 “Hope”

From a stranger in an unknown land.

I know that many people scoff or laugh at this project. There are those that treat this experiment with derision and scorn. I also know that some people undoubtedly view me as a creep or a freak. However, when thoughts of the negativity invade my mind, I try to chase them away with the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face. The by-standers look askance on him in the public street or in the friend’s parlour. If this aversation had its origin in contempt and resistance like his own, he might well go home with a sad countenance; but the sour faces of the multitude, like their sweet faces, have no deep cause, but are put on and off as the wind blows and a newspaper directs.”

In other words, Emerson urges us to ignore the disapproval of other people because their opinions and thoughts change without reason or warning. So why put any stock in them?

But despite my success or failure in maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity and negativity, pictures such as this one will always manage to lift my spirits to a higher level. Yes, these types of illustrations and the supportive people behind them make it all worth it. All the shame, all the ridicule, all the derision- it is all swept aside. Notice all there is to be pleased with in this fine piece of artwork: first of all the artist delivers a positive message of encouragement. Secondly, this individual chose to draw an illustration even though the artist thinks he/she is not very talented. This displays a truly sacrificial attitude: this person chose to participate in a generous act of benevolence, even though the task was a struggle. What a selfless attitude. Finally, the genuine effort put forth in the illustration is evident, and as a result the artwork is truly beautiful. I love this wonderful wolf with all my heart and will cherish all of the positivity and hopefulness it has to offer.

May this wolf bless you, too. Have a happy Saturday.