Heroes of Humanity (Capstone)

December 2019 – May 2020

From war horses and homing pigeons to emotional support cats and seeing eye dogs, animals have been serving humankind since the beginning of time, yet they do not receive the same level of recognition as their human counterparts. My capstone ​Heroes of Humanity​ demonstrates the need for equality among humans and animals. It sheds light on and challenges anthropocentrism, the belief that humans are the most important entity in the universe, by painting the animals’ portraits influenced by ​Dutch Golden Age paintings.​ This reference allows me to portray them as the imposing and important figures similar to their human counterparts that have been portrayed throughout history.

My capstone was inspired by my own relationship I had with my beloved childhood cat, Gigi. She was my emotional support animal who provided me with endless companionship throughout my darkest times. She has undoubtedly shaped me into the woman I have become. When Gigi passed away before I left for college, I wasn’t able to give her a proper funeral or a celebration of her life. With my capstone, I wanted to pay homage to her and other remarkable animals who have provided us with their service and heroic contributions.

For my capstone, I volunteered at Christine Marie’s Star Riders–an equestrian center for disabled children and veterans in Marina, California. I chose to work for them because their mission resonated with me. On Fridays I would spend a couple of hours lead walking a therapeutic horse while a child would be riding.The founders of the all-volunteer organization allowed me to photograph and paint one of their therapy horses named Legend who is known for his gentle demeanor and calming spirit. I want to thank them for allowing me to work with them, the children, and their amazing horses.