Monday, July 2, 2012
Artist’s first book focuses on rescued
farm animals, sanctuaries in four states
By Whitney Hale
University of Kentucky
Sharon Lee Hart, a lecturer in the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies, recently published her first book titled “Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals.”
The book is comprised of photographs, taken by Hart, of rescued farm animals in various animal sanctuaries, accompanied by handwritten stories by sanctuary workers and leaders in the animal rescue industry. Spliced amongst the photos and stories are essays written by Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns; Kathy Stevens, founder of the Catskill Animal Sanctuary; and Gene Baur, founder of Farm Sanctuary.
A long-time vegetarian turned vegan, Hart refers to farm animals as “some of the most abused, overlooked animals on the planet.” Upon visiting her first animal sanctuary, Hart was inspired to meet more rescued farm animals and pursue this project.
Hart visited animal sanctuaries in Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Michigan and New York from 2009 to 2010 to document the animals and learn their stories.
“I pursued this project because I realized the disconnect most people have with farm animals,” Hart said. “The misconceptions and stereotypes about these sentient creatures deeply disturbed me. After visiting my first sanctuary and meeting the animals and experiencing firsthand the amazing personalities they had, which are as varied as any human, I knew I wanted to continue spending time with them and making their portraits.”
Hart says she wishes to convey the animals’ personalities through her photos.
“Some are quirky or funny, while others sensitive, shy, playful, intelligent, mischievous, or inquisitive,” Hart said. “And all seemed to have complex emotional lives.”
The message of the book is to show the innocence and intelligence of farm animals across the country, and Hart hopes “Sanctuary” will promote advocacy for better treatment for farm animals.
“I hope that folks view the photographs with compassionate eyes, read the stories with an open heart, and begin to see farm animals in a new light,” Hart said.
“Sanctuary: Portraits of Rescued Farm Animals” will be released in bookstores this fall. Previews of the book can be found on its website. Ten percent of the proceeds generated through the website will be donated to the sanctuaries depicted in the book.
A native of Washington, D.C., Hart received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Maine College of Art and her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work has been shared throughout the country and she has received an activist award for her “Sanctuary: Farm Animal Ambassadors” project from PhotoPhilanthropy.