By Published On: 24 March 2014999 words5.1 min read

I recently visited the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Have you been?  It’s world class.  Except their restaurant, Provenance Café, which has zero vegan selections (according to the menu on the website) and slim pickings for vegetarians.  Honestly, it’s 2014- vegan options should be on every menu. Vegan or not we all could stand to eat more vegetables in our diets, free from cream, butter, and/or cheese.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is the current home of Damien Hirst’s Work, Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness. It’s on loan for 5 years.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Hirst before, he is the artist who cuts animals like cows, tiger sharks, and goats in half and suspends them in tanks of formaldehyde.  Maybe you know him from the human skull he encrusted with 8,000 diamonds?  If you don’t know him from either of those, you’ll always remember him for the piece at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  It’s made from 9,000 butterflies.

Damien Hirst

From the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website:

The work, Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness, is one of Hirst’s famous butterfly paintings.  He has butterflies bred specifically for his projects and then embeds them on canvasses in household paint.  These works explore themes of life and death and the butterfly paintings in particular follow the tradition of memento mori which is a Latin phrase that translates to “remember you will die”.

Memento mori has been a theme used in art since antiquity and is intended to remind people of their mortality.  This genre comes through in the butterfly paintings because often these insects are symbolic of life and death, and for this piece they had to die to make such a beautiful piece of art.

Nine thousand butterflies.  Bred and born (that “had”) to die for (“such beautiful”) art.

Damien Hirst

Closeup Image of Butterflies in Paint from Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness.

Butterflies are in real trouble- habitat loss, pollution, and climate change have killed off hundreds of species of butterflies to extinction.  They play an important role in the ecosystem as pollinators or as food for other animals.  In other words, we need them.

RELATED READING:
5 Butterfly Species Just Vanished While No One Was Looking
More than 100 Butterfly Species Extinct
Butterflies Not Coping With Climate Change & Habitat Loss

Killing animals for “art” is certainly not a new concept.  In fact, it’s something that I wrote about in 2009 for True/Slant and again in 2011 with this article, Killing Animals for Art.  At that time I discussed how the US Supreme Court struck down, on First Amendment grounds, a federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 48 ) that criminalized the commercial sale, dissemination, and possession of depictions of animal cruelty, as well as of acts showing the wounding or killing of animals.  Meaning, killing animals for art is protected under our First Amendment rights.

[Torturing and killing an animal should not be protected by the First Amendment of Free Speech.  It’s ludicrous to claim rights while taking away the rights of others.  What does it say about a society that has laws to protect people who want to inflict fear and pain on an animal for profit- oh, right.  We do this every single day, but instead of calling it art- we call it food.]

I visit the museum frequently, and when I do, I make it a point to stand in front of the exhibit for a long time.  Standing there you can overhear reactions from people as they realize what the artwork is made from.  Reactions range from awe (butterflies are beautiful even in their unnecessary and unjustified deaths) to shock and disgust.  It’s the latter that resonates most closely with my own feelings.

I stood in front of the exhibit on my last visit and watched a young girl, around six or seven years old, and three adults (two male and one female) approach.  The girl was excited to look at the colors, the adults were excited to share what they knew about the artwork.  One of the men bent down to the girl’s level and asked her if she knew what the “painting” was made from.  The little girl guessed several times (fairy paint was one of the answers, which seriously, cuteness) and was wrong each time.  Excitedly the man said, “No! Butterflies! Can you believe it?! Look at the wings!”

The little girl immediately got upset and raised her voice, “Butterflies? Like the ones outside? But dead?! Why are they all dead? I don’t like them dead!”

Each of the adults took turns trying to explain why it was okay that the butterflies were dead, each time the girl got more upset. The adults ended it by taking the little girl to a different exhibit to take her mind off of the pretty, dead butterflies.

Ruby Roth, author of several children’s books, received mainstream media backlash about her vegan-centric books because “children are too impressionable, vegan information is too sensitive of a topic for them, and it could lure them into eating vegan.”  Which is simply not true.  Children are amazing.  They don’t need a vegan to tell them that killing is wrong, they already know.  Listen to them, they’ll tell you.

PS.

If teaching a child compassion for life leads them to eating vegan, then I say good for them.  Done properly, they will enjoy good health.  Not to mention that the food is as delicious as it is kind.  And, veganism is good for the environment (earth), which is good for us, you know- since we live on earth.  Plus, it is good for the animals- they more than anyone want a vegan world.  That’s good for us too since we need animals to do things like pollinate our crops, replant seeds from one area to the next, maintain natural wildlife populations, and eat dead and decaying waste (dung anyone?) just to name a few.  Wait, what was the problem again?. . .

Photos courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art

By Published On: 24 March 2014999 words5.1 min read

I recently visited the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Have you been?  It’s world class.  Except their restaurant, Provenance Café, which has zero vegan selections (according to the menu on the website) and slim pickings for vegetarians.  Honestly, it’s 2014- vegan options should be on every menu. Vegan or not we all could stand to eat more vegetables in our diets, free from cream, butter, and/or cheese.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is the current home of Damien Hirst’s Work, Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness. It’s on loan for 5 years.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Hirst before, he is the artist who cuts animals like cows, tiger sharks, and goats in half and suspends them in tanks of formaldehyde.  Maybe you know him from the human skull he encrusted with 8,000 diamonds?  If you don’t know him from either of those, you’ll always remember him for the piece at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  It’s made from 9,000 butterflies.

Damien Hirst

From the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website:

The work, Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness, is one of Hirst’s famous butterfly paintings.  He has butterflies bred specifically for his projects and then embeds them on canvasses in household paint.  These works explore themes of life and death and the butterfly paintings in particular follow the tradition of memento mori which is a Latin phrase that translates to “remember you will die”.

Memento mori has been a theme used in art since antiquity and is intended to remind people of their mortality.  This genre comes through in the butterfly paintings because often these insects are symbolic of life and death, and for this piece they had to die to make such a beautiful piece of art.

Nine thousand butterflies.  Bred and born (that “had”) to die for (“such beautiful”) art.

Damien Hirst

Closeup Image of Butterflies in Paint from Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness.

Butterflies are in real trouble- habitat loss, pollution, and climate change have killed off hundreds of species of butterflies to extinction.  They play an important role in the ecosystem as pollinators or as food for other animals.  In other words, we need them.

RELATED READING:
5 Butterfly Species Just Vanished While No One Was Looking
More than 100 Butterfly Species Extinct
Butterflies Not Coping With Climate Change & Habitat Loss

Killing animals for “art” is certainly not a new concept.  In fact, it’s something that I wrote about in 2009 for True/Slant and again in 2011 with this article, Killing Animals for Art.  At that time I discussed how the US Supreme Court struck down, on First Amendment grounds, a federal statute (18 U.S.C. § 48 ) that criminalized the commercial sale, dissemination, and possession of depictions of animal cruelty, as well as of acts showing the wounding or killing of animals.  Meaning, killing animals for art is protected under our First Amendment rights.

[Torturing and killing an animal should not be protected by the First Amendment of Free Speech.  It’s ludicrous to claim rights while taking away the rights of others.  What does it say about a society that has laws to protect people who want to inflict fear and pain on an animal for profit- oh, right.  We do this every single day, but instead of calling it art- we call it food.]

I visit the museum frequently, and when I do, I make it a point to stand in front of the exhibit for a long time.  Standing there you can overhear reactions from people as they realize what the artwork is made from.  Reactions range from awe (butterflies are beautiful even in their unnecessary and unjustified deaths) to shock and disgust.  It’s the latter that resonates most closely with my own feelings.

I stood in front of the exhibit on my last visit and watched a young girl, around six or seven years old, and three adults (two male and one female) approach.  The girl was excited to look at the colors, the adults were excited to share what they knew about the artwork.  One of the men bent down to the girl’s level and asked her if she knew what the “painting” was made from.  The little girl guessed several times (fairy paint was one of the answers, which seriously, cuteness) and was wrong each time.  Excitedly the man said, “No! Butterflies! Can you believe it?! Look at the wings!”

The little girl immediately got upset and raised her voice, “Butterflies? Like the ones outside? But dead?! Why are they all dead? I don’t like them dead!”

Each of the adults took turns trying to explain why it was okay that the butterflies were dead, each time the girl got more upset. The adults ended it by taking the little girl to a different exhibit to take her mind off of the pretty, dead butterflies.

Ruby Roth, author of several children’s books, received mainstream media backlash about her vegan-centric books because “children are too impressionable, vegan information is too sensitive of a topic for them, and it could lure them into eating vegan.”  Which is simply not true.  Children are amazing.  They don’t need a vegan to tell them that killing is wrong, they already know.  Listen to them, they’ll tell you.

PS.

If teaching a child compassion for life leads them to eating vegan, then I say good for them.  Done properly, they will enjoy good health.  Not to mention that the food is as delicious as it is kind.  And, veganism is good for the environment (earth), which is good for us, you know- since we live on earth.  Plus, it is good for the animals- they more than anyone want a vegan world.  That’s good for us too since we need animals to do things like pollinate our crops, replant seeds from one area to the next, maintain natural wildlife populations, and eat dead and decaying waste (dung anyone?) just to name a few.  Wait, what was the problem again?. . .

Photos courtesy of Cleveland Museum of Art

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  1. Anya Todd March 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm - Reply

    Good stuff, KD!

  2. Nancy G. March 24, 2014 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    True, that. Could not have said it any better. Been vegetarian/vegan for several decades now, and never looked back!