Art and the Animal – Rikki Saunders

Western Art Collector Magazine

September 2012

This year’s annual Art and the Animal tour opens at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, New Jersey, on September 1. The traveling juried show, which will make stops at four museums around the country, boasts an array of the nation’s finest work by today’s top animal artists.

The jury, consisting of nine members, has diligently selected 128 works of excellence, originality and individual style. Submissions came from artists within the U.S. as well as around the world.

Diane Mason, president of the Society of Animal Artists, is enthused about this year’s show and the fresh works that it brings.

“Every year brings its own excitement because every year we have some new members and we have some people who have never exhibited before,” Mason says. “Seeing the work of the new people that are coming into the organization is exciting. I like seeing that the tradition of the genre is being continued with this young generation, the tradition that so many other artists have already established.”

Mason continues, “We have a lot of really good people that are using material differently than in the past, and they are pushing the boundaries of what is considered animal art. That’s always exciting to see.”

David Wagner, tour director for Art and the Animal, is equally enthused by this year’s 52nd exhibition.

New associate member Rikki Saunders, who was welcomed into the Society after the jury’s deliberations for the annual show, will not have work featured, but is enthused to support this year’s exhibiting members and looks forward to next year as well.

“Art and nature have always been central in my life,” Saunders says. “My artistic interest was nurtured by my father who taught me to hunt and fish, to carve in wood, to sit quietly in nature, to observe, and to immerse myself in the character of a wild creature.”

She continues, “Growing out of such experiences, I am committed to only working from real life and spending my days with wonderful animals, observing their habits, learning their language, and studying their form, all in an attempt to convey with great honesty their grace and spirit.” Saunders’ work Tarka displays an otter triumphing over his latest catch of fish—a picture of the real life that she strives to portray.

“I want everybody to get to know the genre of animal art as fine art,” reiterates Mason. “That is what our organization is all about. Here we are in our 52nd year and a lot of people still look down their noses and say animal art isn’t fine art. I want them to change their perception. It’s fine art in every sense of the word.”

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