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Sunday, 25 May 2014

Art:Tangled Up in You

In a collaboration between sculptors Beth Cavener Stitcher and Alessandro Gallo, the exquisite balance of the predator/prey cycle is explored in the work Tangled Up In You. The fluid grace of the intertwined hare and snake, with their anthropomorphic eyes, is offset with the physicality and tension between them. Cavener Stitcher's work looks in depth at not only this sensuous violence, but the balance between humanity and the innate animal instinct within all of us. Nastia Voynovskaya described the work up as 'visceral', and I think it's the only word which could possibly sum up all of the feelings and emotions this piece provokes.

I've always struggled with the moral and ideological arguments for eating meat and animal products; my father consoled me as a child that the native Americans said a prayer of thanks for the animal they killed and used all parts of it (I suspect this is a massive over-generalisation of the different spiritualties practiced by varied tribes, but I love him all the same for trying to comfort me), and it's only now that I've accepted that as a viable option and come to terms with it.

Whilst I do support the vegan/vegetarian movement at large in its efforts to bring the treatment of animals to our attention (though organised veganism can be hellish and hypocritical in practice) I no longer feel that it is the way to go. The production and importation of meat substitutes isn't always better for the environment than locally produced meat, and veganism is intrinsically at odds with the natural cycle of birth and death, which I feel the interplay of sexuality and brutality in Cavener and Gallo's sculpture represents; things must die for others to survive, and that's going to happen whether there's chicken in my salad or not.

You can see more of Cavener Stitcher's work on her website here (I personally favour "The Adoration (from Van Eyck)"), and more photos of the production of this sculpture on High Fructose. If you're in Milwaukee, you can see Tangled Up in You on show in the Milwaukee Museum of Art.


All images in this post were sourced from High Fructose. I do not own the rights to any of the above images.


  1. That's a great way of looking at it, thank you! I sometimes feel guilty about the fact that I eat meat, but given all my little allergies and things if I didn't eat meat, I wouldn't be able to eat much else. I can't even eat the vegetarian options at restaurants, they usually have cheese or spices that upset my stomach. So the idea of giving thanks to the animal for sustaining you is a great one.

    1. Thank you for your comment! It's often forgotten by vegan and vegetarian activists that many people have health issues (and also access problems, as fruit and vegetables can be scarce in deprived areas and aren't cheap) which prevent people from subscribing to a lifestyle choice they may otherwise have agreed with. I know a not insignificant number of people personally who have had to give up veganism because of health problems. It doesn't mean it's not a valid choice, but it's not for everyone.

  2. really amazing sculpture for all the reasons you state. Not to sound too pretentious, but I also love the colors. I'm weird about eating whole animals (like shrimps, small fish, a cornish hen) since thats a single life that died for you. I'm ok for eating a piece of an animal though...cows and chickens feed many people. I share the guilt with many.

    1. No, the colours are beautiful, I completely agree. That's an interesting view point I hadn't heard before; it's hard, dealing with the difficult issues of consuming animal products, but I feel that if you can compromise in a way which you're happy with go ahead.


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