In Amanda Sandos’ graduating presentation, she brought together art, art history, deep ecology, bioregionalism, zoology, religion and other fields and traditions to examine the connection between animals and humans. A former zookeeper and current environmental artist, Amanda presented in the gallery, surrounded by her paintings of animals, particularly the snake, which was a focus of her art to help recover the snake in connection to humans and not as distanced, labeled evil or other ways in which we’ve been divided. She describes her graduating student workshop:
Animanity and Humanality: The Human Animal Connection, with IMA graduating student Amanda Sandos: My presentation includes a mixed media art installation comprised of painted images and quotes rendered in round calligraphy. There are two main focal walls of art work, organized so as to place the viewer centrally between the two walls to surround them with the images and ideas. the first of the two walls is an exploration of the snake, including portraits of snakes from around the world organized around five quotes from religious and literary texts pertaining to the snake. It is my intention to allow the viewer to see the snake’s natural beauty in the images, pushing them beyond the common reaction of fear. The quotes chosen track some of that fear through the canon of historical and religious literature to illuminate how this colors our relationship to the snake. The second walls consists of paintings
about chimps and the human/chimp relationship arranged around the joined hands of a human and a chimp. This wall will explore hierarchical language, and how we used our relationship to explain and understand ourselves. I will give a brief contextual presentation about the works and then explore them in a discussion with the Goddard community.
Especially moving was Amanda’s story of befriending an angry and difficult male chimp by helping feed and care of the chimp’s baby. Even now, years afterwards, when she visits the zoo, both father and son leap up at her approach and show her how much they love her.