|Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2007 12:21 pm
Post subject: Best Friends 2 year reception for ARK
|Found this on BF's website. Interesting to say the least.
'I can make art of this’
August 16, 2007 : 2:24 PM ET
It was the intake forms.
Bureaucratic instruments that on the surface are black and white, impersonal, cold. But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, each page catalogued the emotional stories of the time.
Each day, Best Friends co-founder Cyrus Mejia, who was managing the rescue center in Tylertown, Miss., would find himself inundated with intake forms – so much paperwork representing so many animals.
Then one day, Cyrus, who is an artist, sat staring at the paper mountain in front of him when the idea struck.
“I’m sitting there, looking at literally thousands of pieces of paper,” he said. “And I thought, 'I can make art of this.’”
And for the past year and a half, Cyrus has been working on “Ark,” an art installation dedicated to the people and animals who survived Katrina, and the volunteers who helped them through the crisis.
Ark will be unveiled August 29 – two years to the day that Katrina hit – in a ceremony at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Cyrus is hoping everyone, especially those who volunteered alongside him in the Katrina trenches, will join him on that day to commemorate the anniversary.
“There’s still so much emotion attached to Katrina,” he said. “And I think it’s important we continue to express and work through those emotions. Creating Ark was one of the ways I worked through the pain of the experience.”
Ark is a hand-made boat covered in collage, modeled after the flat-bottomed jon boat used in water rescues during Hurricane Katrina. It began with a simple wood frame and stretched canvas. Once the boat took shape, Cyrus plastered the entire surface with hundreds of copies of those same intake forms that sparked the idea.
He finished the collage with photos of Katrina animals, painted hurricane swirls, strips of text ripped from dog and cat food bags and maps of the affected areas applied on top of the intake forms. Several layers of varnish complete his work.
Some of the materials came directly from Ground Zero of Hurricane Katrina.
“I think it’s possible for physical items to retain emotion,” Cyrus said. “I wanted to capture that energy and presence in this work.”
As he worked through the piece, he worked through his feelings as well. He needed a year, he thinks, to get to a place where he could move forward, actively taking strides to heal. Cyrus took Katrina’s wrath very personally – she all but destroyed his childhood home of New Orleans.
“Having lived there I’m sure added a dimension to the emotion involved. My mom was born and raised a few miles outside of Tylertown. I still have family in the area; I have cousins who lost their homes.”
Even as he applies the finishing touches to Ark, Cyrus knows the Katrina healing process will continue.
“The emotions will always be there. You don’t always work them out; they don’t go away,” he said. “You work around them and cope. When I look at Ark from a distance, I’m OK. But when I stop to read some of the details from the intake forms up close, it all comes back to me.”
Asked what he hopes others might take away from the exhibit, Cyrus paused for a long time.
“I don’t know,” he finally confessed. “I don’t know that I can tell people what they should feel. I just hope they come and let it in.”
The opening reception for Ark is scheduled for August 29, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, located approximately 5 miles north of Kanab on Highway 89. The event will take place in the yurt on Kanab Canyon Road, about half a mile past the Best Friends Welcome Center. For more information, call 644-3965 ext. 4333.
Written by Amy Abern
Photos by Molly Wald