In the December 2011 issue, National Geographic features Alan Rabinowitz. The story written by Caroline Alexander is about the future of tigers. Since I heard this radio program first, that reading meant a lot more to me.
Now I'm curating the 18 Tigers Art Show at Southern Illinois University and asking viewers to surround themselves with tigers of every description in the library's rotundas this February. It's an art response to the story that broke on 10/20/11 in Zanesville, Ohio when Sheriff's deputies shot nearly 50 wild animals including 18 rare Bengal tigers. The owner, a Vietnam Vet with PTSD, threw their cages open and self-immolated.
Initial submissions are coming from as far away as Florida thanks to the magic of social networking. The show will raise awareness about the tiger's plight, educate viewers about various NPO's work, and offer participating artists and viewers a cathartic experience.
When people are able to wall themselves off and see others (in this case monsterous tigers) as separate, it's easy to do horrific things in the name of survival. With the extinction of the tiger so close, transforming our own hearts is paramount. I'm asking artists to wrestle with their own demons as they bring their tigers to life and show viewers how the extinction of tigers charges them emotionally, changes their perspectives, and inspires them to do good work.
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