Pits and Perception
We view the world through the filter of our own perceptions, beliefs and ideas. But perceptions, beliefs and ideas can be influenced and changed. When I was a child, after World War II, the dogs I was told to approach with caution were German Shepherds and Dobermans. The Pit Bull was around then, but as a family pet, not a frightening ogre. The dog playing with the kids on The Little Rascals TV show was a Pit Bull.
Today’s perception of the Pit Bull as a vicious killer is based in the sad reality of dog fighting. But it’s humans who put dogs in a ring to fight. It’s humans who use violence and torture to make these dogs the symbol of their own viciousness. And the image we see of Pit Bulls in the media comes from this minority of dogs, who themselves are victims.
Art can present us with a different view, a new perspective, another way of thinking about things. In this series of paintings of Pit Bulls I’m challenging the current-day perception of these dogs. Not by changing their image, but by depicting them close-up, larger than life, and inviting the viewer to question how they see and perceive Pit Bulls.
Inspiration for this project came to me from two discoveries. First of all, the understanding that pit bulls and other so called “bully breeds” account for a large percentage of animals being destroyed in shelters. And secondly, the realization that public perception of these dogs has changed over the years, and their reputation as vicious killers is fairly recent.
I gave myself a challenge. To create art that could help change public perception of pit bulls. The idea that came to me was to fill a room with larger-than-life paintings of pit bulls and invite viewers to look closely at these dogs. I remember reading that Georgia O’Keefee decided to paint her series of large flowers in order to force people to stop and look at the flowers. I figured that I would do the same thing for the pit bulls.
Pits and Perception was made possible by a grant from the Culture & Animals Foundation. To learn more about how you can help save these dogs, visit the link below for Best Friends campaign Pit Bulls: Saving America's Dog