Showing November 2014 @ Coffee Cats Cafe - 2765 17 Ave SW, Calgary AB T3E 7E1
I rode for seventeen hours from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in a packed sleeper train equipped with a full bar that converted into a nightclub with a disco ball and fold-away tables creating a make-shift dance floor. Strangers soon turned friends and I was grateful for good company to take my mind off the fact that I was getting claustrophobic between the passengers and baggage stowed with a mad precision that would only makes sense if you saw it. We shared stories, laughs, and even more drinks. Seventeen hours sardined in a train. But it was fun and I'd do it again.
Upon entering Thailand, 'the elephant' became immediately apparent. It's everywhere. And besides the animal's obvious economic value for tourism, the elephant is the heart of Thailand, and it represents great power, as well as everlasting peace. Historically, the elephant was fundamental in the development of Thai civilization. They were used for everything from farming and building construction, to war, and most importantly as a spiritual symbol of greatness. At the turn of the 20th century there were an estimated 100,000 elephants in Thailand. Today there are less than 5,000 and only half of those are wild. Widespread commercial deforestation, illegal ivory poaching, and illegal labor practices in the logging industry are the main threats to elephants in Thailand and despite the overwhelming evidence many people under estimate the severity of the issue.
During my trip, I visited an elephant conservation site which allowed us to learn about them and also interact with them in an intimate yet humane environment. The site, located an hour and a bit outside Chiang Mai, exhibited a rugged elegance. Steep hillsides chunked with rocky points beneath lush jungle greens. Vines stringing down like spaghetti hanging in the sky, creating streaks of light across the tiny one lane winding dirt road. When our group arrived we were each assigned an elephant and after several theory and history classes in the morning, we spent an afternoon into the evening playing, feeding, and bathing this amazing animal.
It's hard to explain what you feel when you experience something new for the first time. In part, that's because there's nothing to compare it to. As humans we are constantly evaluating and rationalizing our experiences but sometimes we experience something so new that we are simply caught in the actual moment of experience as opposed to our analytical interpretation of it. You hear the numbers. You read the numbers. You see the pictures. But there's something to be said for really being there.
Elephants are really smart. Especially when it comes to getting food. They like bananas, peel and all. They like the water and they'll muck about in it for hours. My experience taught me that we share a greater relationship to the living beings in our environment than we think. With elephants, we share many of the same likes, dislikes, feelings and emotions. There is an undeniable understanding. There is connection.
The selected works in this showing were inspired by this connection. The idea that the lines between our environment and each other become blurred when we realize that our actions have real consequences on everything and everyone around us, including ourselves. DdRegalo.com