oil on belgian linen
85 x 85 in
(215.9h x 215.9w cm)
The African elephant is the largest terrestrial land mammal and weighs in at over six tons. Evolving with few geographic constraints, elephants ultimately roamed across the entire continent, and they required immense resources to survive. The herds originally migrated thousands of miles, their travels shaping ecosystems. An area which had too many elephants was stripped of forest, forcing inhabitants to move on until the forests returned and the cycle continued and resulting in a diverse tapestry of abundant habitats. Everything changed with the barrage of modern man. Elephants evolved to require an entire continent that was gradually being denied them. The people of Africa created protected areas to provide an option other than extinction, but within ten years of creation, nearly every national park and reserve had issues with elephants disrupting local ecosystems and flattening landscapes. The lack of success in protecting forests resulted in the decline of elephants and many other species.
Today elephants are faced with an even more daunting obstacle to their survival: man’s obsession with ivory. Poaching elephants for their tusks has reached an unprecedented level, and thousands are being killed each year to satisfy the growing demand for everything ivory. “Tusk” was painted to call attention to plight of the elephant. The solidarity of the one eye and one tusk symbolizes just how quickly they are disappearing from our world. Look closely into his eye and there appears a subtle sadness; look closer and we are faced with only ourselves.