Has a painting or piece of artwork ever stopped you immediately, demanding your full attention? Such is so often the case with Jane O’Hara’s paintings. This week, Jane joins us for a conversation about her artwork, which highlights “the failure of the human-animal bond and the tendency of humans to impose their own agenda despite the risks.” We specifically discuss her extraordinary new series State of the Union, currently on exhibit at the New Bedford Art Museum in Massachusetts. The series, at once appearing extremely familiar and yet vaguely surreal, is a visual and auditory examination of the animal experience across the US. We dig into Jane’s artistic process and the pivotal moment she realized she wanted to embrace a vegan lifestyle, and she also shares the story of her late cat Nellie, why she decided to use Nellie as an anchor in the State of the Union series, and the difference in how we tend to treat companion animals and farmed animals.
*We are thrilled to expand the accessibility of our podcast by offering written transcripts of the interviews! Click here to read Jasmin’s interview with Jane O’Hara*
Jane O’Hara is a contemporary American artist, curator and founder of Jane O’Hara Projects. She received a BFA in painting from Boston University. Jane’s work has been presented and exhibited across the US. She is an honoree of the Courage of Conscience Award from the Peace Abbey, honoring individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves through humanitarian causes, peace and social justice activism.
“The arts have played a strong part in opening my eyes.” – Jane O’Hara
Highlights for Episode 706:
- An overview of Jane’s State of the Union series and how she picked the themes for each painting
- Jane explains why she chose to supplement each painting with an audio component
- Why so many of Jane’s paintings include the theme of industrial farming and how she approaches it in each work
- The story of Nellie the Cat and why Jane decided to incorporate her throughout the State of the Union series
- Jane shares the story of how her art became intertwined with her animal activism
- The pivotal moment that prompted Jane to become a vegan and animal activist
- The profound connection between the viewer and the artist and why visual art often affects people so profoundly
- The interplay of humor and irony in Jane’s work and how she manages to bring that into her paintings despite their often tragic themes
- Compassion Art and what artists gain from being a part of the collective
- The Beasts of Burden series and how it demonstrates how deeply integrated animals are into our lives
- Jane’s artistic process and how she plans her research and painting
Jasmin Singer: Welcome to Our Hen House, Jane.
Jane O'Hara: Hi. I'm glad to be here.
Jasmin Singer: So, so happy to chat with you. I was just telling you I love talking to artists, and it's funny because you're a visual artist, and that can actually be challenging for an audio podcast, but I think that there's something extra magical about it because at the end after people listen to your story and your perspective a bit, maybe then they would go look at your work and it would give them a whole different vantage point. Do you find that doing like audio interviews is strange for a visual person?
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This episode is brought to you in part through the generosity of A Well-Fed World. A Well-Fed World provides the means for change by empowering individuals, social justice organizations, and political decision makers to embrace the benefits of plant-based foods and farming. Learn more at awfw.org.