Elephants and green upholstery are not an obvious pair. To see this relationship, we have to step far back to understand the big picture of humans and the environment. The further I proceed into green upholstery, the more I realize my human purpose to save the earth and all it’s creatures.
One of my favorite animals is the elephant, universally adored for it’s power and majesty, and also on the brink of extinction due to poachers and global warming. And like humans, need the same land and resources to survive. Humans and elephants, both at the top of the food chain, and both reliant upon each other for survival.
In life and in my business, I hope my small contributions will aid the perpetual motion towards a society dedicated to improving our part in the big picture of environmental stability.
The Ghost of Satao
Satao, one of Kenya's largest elephants, was poached in June 2014 with a poison arrow. He suffered a slow death and his face was cut off so that poachers could remove his tusks. Satao was the last 'Tusker', genetically known for growing unusually large tusks--his nearly touched the ground. 'The Ghost of Satao' image is an inverted black and white photo of Satao, the harsh lines are uneasy, and the reversed highlights suggest a presence other than life.
His legacy is commemorated onto sueded linen, earthy grey like elephant skin, a minimally processed natural fiber that represents and protects the earth's offerings. From the outer fabric to every layer of plant based materials inside this chair, consideration for Satao and the environment is the focus. We live the message we believe, and even the smell of the seat's natural materials reminds us the how comforting nature can be.
As an artist I want to impart beauty, and in this case, a powerful message that is approachable and timeless. May Satao's memory remind us that protecting the environment always improves our humanity, and that the value of truth and knowledge never change.
Elephant in the room
Most of us are familiar with elephants and illegal ivory, and beginning to learn about our relationship with elephants and the environment. Intense droughts have left people, crops, and elephants thirsty and competing for a diminishing water supply caused by global warming and contamination.
In nature, elephant steps keep the jungles and forests from taking over the crop lands, an age old battle that can aid the development of human villages. However, within a village setting, an elephant’s natural behavior looks like trampled crops and disruption to daily life. Rather than graze 12-18 hours a day, a few hours in the village crops helps fulfill the average elephants required 661 pounds of vegetable matter per day. The expansion of agribusiness and infrastructure reduce an elephant’s broad territory, limiting natural water and food resources, and cause a push closer towards human establishments (Can elephants and humans live together?, theguardian.com, March 2017).
On a broader scale, people and elephants are migrating in search of water. In Kenya ”local people say the latest migration of thousands of herders with tens of thousands of cows, goats and sheep in search of water and pasture has been triggered mainly by harsh weather patterns”. For years, elephants and wild life have perished from lack of water or vegetation (that needed water to grow), National Geographic reports this in 2009. The immediate remedy is bringing water to the people and animals, and amazing people like Patrick Mwalua travel many hours every day by his own graces, to deliver 3000 gallons of water to the animals of Tsavo West National Park.
The connection between you, me, elephants, furniture, and the environment can seem like more than six degrees of separation. However, if we realize or remember that humans are equal players in this single global ecosystem, then we'll practice the responsibility that comes with such great power.