Farm Animal Sanctuary Project / Merged Realities

Farm Animal Sanctuary Project

I have been visiting farm animal sanctuaries across the country, making portraits of the residents because of my love of farm animals and the knowledge that they are some of the most abused, overlooked animals on the planet. Viewed by many as utilitarian, as a food source, or as labor for humans, it is not surprising that after spending time with them I confirmed what I knew in my heart to be true all along: exposure leads to understanding. These animals are unique. Some are quirky or funny, while others are sensitive, shy, playful, intelligent, mischievous, inquisitive, and all seemed to have complex emotional lives.

“One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

The animals have been removed from abusive or other extreme situations and are now getting the best care possible. They are free to live out their lives without fear and most have become comfortable with their environment, which allow a photographer to make a more accurate portrait. Each sanctuary I visit is different, but all have a similar spirit and passionate dedication to animals. My goal is to depict each individual animal’s personality and to push beyond showing them simply as the cute or exotic other. I approach photographing them with respect, in the same way I would a person.

It was important to show the animals as individuals. One way to convey this was to title the photographs with each animal’s first name. I rely on those that live and work with the animals to help me edit the photographs. They share stories about the animals, and give invaluable input about which photograph best represents each animal. Ultimately, I hope these photographs encourage people to see with compassionate eyes and view farm animals in a new light.

— Sharon Lee Hart

Printed from Cerise Press:

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