Every year coyotes from northern New York State find their way to Manhattan by riding on trucks. Once they find solace in the greens of Central Park, they are captured and caged, or sent back to a more natural setting. Some die before they even make it out of captivity.
The story of these coyotes is the focus of Rachel Owens’ piece, “Falls, 2006” in the exhibition “Empathetic” at the Temple Gallery, which is the inaugural exhibition of the “Emerging Curators” series.
“This is a show where you don’t have to know about art. This is all something we’re familiar with,” said Elizabeth Thomas, the guest curator.
The familiar feeling Thomas is referring to is empathy, the bridge between two peoples’ experiences and emotions.
“Empathy is a way to relate to people like you or unlike you,” Thomas said.
Owens said she achieved this feeling of empathy through the use of animals in her art.
“Animals are amazingly evocative. They draw people in,” Thomas said.
The use of animals in this piece is a metaphor for the “others” within society who venture through this societal urban jungle, Owens said.
Thomas said that Owens’ art, which mixes trash and media photos from major current events, signals the larger sphere of politics and the world.
“All things in the world are connected,” Thomas said.
“I’m interested in using found stuff, garbage for the exact same reason,” Owens said. “You think about these boxes and how many hands have touched them.”
Artist Pia Lindman explores empathy around the world in her project, “New York Times Project, 09/02-09/03.” Lindman traced pictures of people grieving or experiencing trauma, and then physically mimicked the portrayals of emotions.
This piece’s theme focuses on how trauma is represented in the media and how people perform their grief for the public.
“We learn emotion not because we feel it inside, but how we see other people performing the act. You learn how to look happy or sad,” Thomas said.
The exhibition also includes drawings, short films and participatory projects centering on empathy at the Temple Gallery, which is a part of the Tyler School of Art.
LeAnne Matlach can be reached at email@example.com.