Michelle Waters: giving voice to the voiceless through artistic expression

Michelle Waters presented her amazing work at Sanctuary Bistro last month.  She gives an incredible voice to the animals by bringing them to life on the canvas. Her images have beauty, controversy and conversation.  Make sure to join in on the discussion.  Here is an interview with Michelle Waters!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about who you are?

I’m a painter and animal and environmental activist. I’ve been creating art about animals since college in the 1980s. I show my work regularly in the Bay Area and nationally. Right now, I have two paintings about farmed animals in a national show about food in Chicago. I feel like it’s really important to use my work to give voice to animals and their need for liberation.


2. What is the inspiration behind the work?

Animals in all their glory! My companion cats, wildlife around my house and in places that I frequent, farmed animals at the sanctuaries that I visit.


3. Is there a piece that you have created that you are most proud of? Why?

Yes, my painting “Luddites”, which is a large piece (40” square) and depicts animals destroying bulldozers. It is a statement against development and in defense of wildnature. I really wish that non-human animals had opposable thumbs! Our species wouldn’t be able to dominate the planet the way we do.


4. Do you believe that art sparks conversation? What is the conversation that you are sharing through your art?

Oh definitely. I’m using art to speak for animals, who do speak in their own defense but unfortunately most humans are unable to hear. I want to use my art to get people to question their own attitudes toward non-human animals. Why do we continue to believe that we are the pinnacle of creation, and that animals are here to serve us? Our culture largely denies that non-human animals have intelligence and emotions, but science is showing us that isn’t true. Still, most humans haven’t gotten the message that we’re not the only species that matters, so that is what I’m working to express through my art.


5. What led you to become an artist?

I have a lot to say, and words are not my forte. I always just gravitated towards visual expression, even as a very young child. My grandfather was an artist, and I spent a lot of time as a child drawing with him and my sister. I am really lucky because I had a supportive family – many young artists do not have that support.


6. What is the most exciting/interesting/ “thing” that has happened through inspiration of your work.

Someone told me that she stopped eating animals after seeing my painting “What’s For Dinner?”!! She said she looked at the painting and realized that the animals people eatare just like her beloved dog, and she couldn’t do it any more!


7. Where can we see more of your work?

I always have work at Kaleid Gallery, in downtown San Jose, and usually also at Cactus Gallery in Los Angeles. Most of my work, including older work, is at my website at www.michellewatersart.com


8. Compassion, community, the planet, the people, animals, health and sustainability are what drive Sanctuary Bistro. How would you say these impact your work?

My work and life are driven by all of the above. If we want to survive, we absolutely have to change the way we live on this planet, starting with our unsustainable and cruel diets. Veganism has such far-reaching positive effects – for farmed animals, for wild animals whose habitat is destroyed to make room for animal agribusiness, and for the life-support systems of the Earth. We simply cannot go on as we have, our meat and dairy-heavy diets are unsustainable. Veganism is one simple change that anyone can make to help the planet survive.


9. How does one purchase your work and if I do what happens?

If you’re not close to San Jose or Los Angeles, contacting me through my website (www.michellewatersart.com) is the best way. I also sell prints of my original pieces, and I ship anywhere. Proceeds from the sale of my art go to groups that are working for animals, such as Wolf Patrol, Center for Biological Diversity and Animal Place.


10. Anything else that you would like to share?

Just that there are so many ways that people can help non-human animals, and I really support people using their individual talents to make the world a better place. Mystrength is art, but so many people are using their talents as speakers, writers, organizers, culinary geniuses…it’s really endless what we can do when we harness our creativity for animals.


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