May 24 2011

#24 “The Unseen”

From Heather

I would first like to commend the artist for her commitment to utilizing nearly the entire canvas for this illustration. The natural elements (trees, rocks, etc.) help to secure this wolf in a place that is real and tangible for the viewer, and I feel like the drawing is stronger because of this. The full usage of the canvas allows us to truly examine this wolf in his element, his native environment.  Please understand that I am not downplaying the importance of imagination in the mind of the viewer; I am simply drawing attention to the illustrator’s artistic dedication.

What really strikes me about this picture, though, is the violently expressive body language of the wolf. You’ll notice that the wolf seems to feel threatened or appears to possibly be in some sort of danger. This is made evident by the slicked back ears, the ferocious disposition and facial features, and the way the animal is reared back on its haunches, striking a somewhat defensive pose. As a result, the work is positively dripping with anxiety and drama.

But all of these details still beg the question: What has this wolf in such dire straits? Has it encountered a lupine nemesis vying for dominance in the pack? Some evil archenemy? Is he face to face with the wolf’s greatest foe: man? Could it be something less spectacular (perhaps the wolf is merely feigning anger in some sort of primitive lupine game), or totally outrageous (maybe this wolf has encountered beings from another planet)? Ultimately, as is often the case, the answer is left up the viewer and in the end, you must decide: What lies just beyond the reaches of the page?

May 19 2011

#19 “Ragin’”

From a stranger in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Rage \rāj\ n: 1a: violent and uncontrolled anger 1b: a fit of violent wrath

Rage \rāj\ v: 1a: to move, rush, dash or surge furiously 1b: to proceed, continue or prevail with great violence

Rage. It’s the one word that comes to mind when I examine at this illustration. Pure, unadulterated rage. It is certainly true that wolves are violent and savage. It is well known that they are wild and ferocious, but when people think about these characteristics of the wolf, they most likely pair them with the notion that the wolf is also a calculating and shrewd predator. The wolf is smart; he is composed. For it is often through his great cunning that a wolf is able to attain his prey.

But what may be even more terrifying than the actions of a sly and crafty predator is the idea of a wolf gone out of his mind with fury. What could drive a wolf over the edge? What could cause this typically poised and self-possessed creature to erupt into a volcanic explosion of fury? I’m not sure, but when you consider that it is legal in some areas to hunt wolves from helicopters and that nearly 8,000 wolves have been killed by humans since 2006, is it surprising that the wolf is seething with rage? When you understand that certain wolf populations have been infected with parasitic skin diseases in order to control their numbers and that generally the wolf has been one the most abused animals in history, is it any wonder that a wolf would lash out in anger? I think not, my friends.

I’m not an encourager of violence on the part of man or wolf, but I do believe the wolf is a noble savage, and if the facts that I have listed above are indeed the impetus for this wolf’s frenzied wrath, then I say rage on wolf, rage on. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I will leave you with the words of the esteemed poet, Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.