Apr 26 2012

#362 “Pride/Prejudice”

From Hannah in Chattanooga, Tennessee

When I examine this stunning illustration by Hannah, I can’t help but to be swept back in time to the genteel countryside of England during the Victorian Era. It was a time when breeding and sophistication took center stage; a time of widespread cultivation outward appearances of dignity and restraint while underneath a seething cauldron of passion and emotion was boiling; a time of great pride in both the upper and lower classes and extreme prejudice from each unto the other. And of course, it is out of all of these social phenomena that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin was born. Seeing as how most of you are familiar with the work, I won’t waste time in rehashing the storyline here, but I do think it is interesting to connect the Victorian sophistication observed in this picture with the overarching themes of the book and then to tie the title of the book back into the nature of the wolf itself. In essence, the qualities of pride and prejudice define the wolf all too well. It is a creature of great strength and virility, and out of these qualities excude a certain dignity and honor. But in response, the world often views the creature through hostile eyes, serving up a healthy dose of judgment that creates the constant controversy over the animal. It’s the oldest battle: self-respect vs. discrimination. The battle ground is the hearts and minds of every man, woman and child? Which will reign victorious? Only time will tell….

Feb 12 2012

#288 Awareness (12)

From Mariah

For those of you who don’t know (which is probably all of you), Mariah was the very first individual to ever submit a picture to WBS. Her original submission can be seen all the way back at #2. Thanks so much for the support, Mariah. The gift of your artwork means more to me than you’ll ever know.

Timber Wolf Preservation Society

Here’s a part of the TWPS Mission Statement:

“If wolves and other native species are to make any kind of comeback, it is necessary for the public to understand and appreciate the predator/prey relationship for the balance of nature.  It is to this end that the society is working.  We believe that a large part of the reason for the wolf’s endangered status is due to widespread misunderstanding concerning its nature and place in the environment.  Through lectures to schools, civic and sportsman groups and media interviews, the society hopes to dispel false notions and past myths about the wolf and to instill a sense of value for a missing part of our wilderness areas.”

Aug 21 2011

#113 “Identity Crisis”

From Charlie in San Francisco, California

Labels. We often say that we hate them, but in some ways we all strive for them. Let’s be honest: In reality, everyone is searching for an identity. Sometimes the identities that we seek out are truly unique and individualistic. At other times, our desire is to belong to a clique or group that will allow us to be a part of a collective identity and secure a position of belonging.

Overall, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a desire to be known as a certain “type” of person. It provides security and safety and makes us feel like we have a definitive of knowledge of our own selves, and most of the time there’s nothing wrong with this. Introspection is something we value, and creating labels for ourselves allows us to feel like we have achieved this even if we have not.

As for myself, I have sought out a variety of labels and identities over the years. In high school I was at first a nerd. Then I turned granola. After this, I dabbled in the stoner or hippie identity with a little bit of southern redneck thrown in for good measure. During all of this, I played the class clown and the sarcastic deadpan comedian with a hard exterior but a heart of gold.

As you can tell, of course, the pictures that are on display today explore a couple of modern labels that have only recently entered into our cultural lexicon. Now, I am not sure if you despise those that seem to adhere to the characteristics of these illustrations or if you are the person who fully exemplifies them. Either way, I think we can all agree that these illustrations are humorously exaggerated but also entertaining in their accuracy.

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a fair amount of communication back and forth with Charlie. I don’t really know exactly who she is because I have never met her in person. So… I couldn’t tell you if she is a hipster, hippie, scenester, nerd, goth, mean girl, yuppie, stoner, wasp, queen bee, wallflower, punk, emo kid, mod, or bla bla bla. But… I can tell you that she is another wonderful contributor to the Wolves by Strangers project and for that I have the deepest respect and admiration for her, and of course, as you can see, she is a very talented and unique artist. Also, I just have to say that I was so impressed when she asked me to send her some WBS flyers to hang up in San Francisco. How cool is that? If you want some flyers to hang up in your town, just let me know, and I would be more than happy to send some your way.

Finally, just as a final note, here is a hilarious website that details 37 different personality types. Check it out and see which label fits you best.

Jul 15 2011

#76 “Pack Mentality”

From Joel

What fine specimens greet our eyes today. As you can clearly see, these wolves by Joel are simultaneously beautiful and and artfully rendered, but they also accurately represent one of the most well-known features of the wolf lifestyle: the tendency to live and travel in packs. Now, there is a lot of information available as to why wolves live and travel in groups, and if you are curious, you can access information here. But when you think about it, many reasons for existence of the wolfpack can easily be guessed. For one, it makes hunting prey easier. It also allows for greater personal security, helps to ensure the availability of mates, and provides a “social” outlet for the animals.

When you translate the concept of the pack into the realm of human existance, things can get a little tricky. There are a variety of sides to this issue and many ways to examine it. Some might argue that the global society formed by increased technological communication is in turn increasing the human pack mentality. Others argue that this same phenomenon is actually decreasing true human interaction and is only serving to isolate people. On another note, when you look at most modern communities, many people don’t have anything that resembles a close personal relationship with their neighbors. This is probably due to the fact that as our society progresses and the ease of acquiring the necessities and amenities of life increases, our reliance on those that live in a close proximity to us decreases. But, eventhough we not know the person who is living next door to us, it can also be argued that there are more social outlets than ever before in terms of activities that range from recreational softball teams to the wild world of LARPing.

So what can we do? What conclusions about the “human pack” can be reached when the viewpoints that are so fundamentally different? I’m not really sure, but here’s a start: I think that we can all agree that we need each other. Not necessarily for survival, but still… we need each other. Ne need the warm smiles, the firm handshakes, the loving embraces, the gentle holding of hands that only another human can offer. And if we truly believe this, why not make the choice to today? Add life to the pack. Be kind to one another. Show love in every way possible in your daily life. Let your life be a blessing to others. If we all pull together, there’s no telling what we may accomplish.

Thanks for the artwork, Joel. Your contribution is a reminder of the selflessness and beauty that I hope to practice in my own life.