Q+Art: Jada Fabrizio Advocates for Animal Rights with Tongue-in-Cheek Photographs
Photographer Jada Fabrizio creates staged scenes populated with animal figures that spark conversation about habitat preservation and the fragility of nonhuman life. She uses minimalist lighting, reminiscent of a theater set, to throw each figure into stark relief against its antiseptic backdrop. The offbeat photographs from her Animalia series paint a grim but strangely playful picture of a shrinking wildlife environment that grows smaller every year.
Fabrizio mixes elements of set building, sculpture, and installation to create her images, crafting each figure by hand and photographing the result. “I use play objects as a weapon to soften a serious subject matter and to communicate my intent,” Fabrizio writes in her artist statement. Though much of her work is filled with visual punnery and quirky humor, Fabrizio hopes her approach will inspire a more ethical stance toward animals and their habitats.
The New Jersey-based artist knows art and animal rights haven’t always been good bedfellows. “Artists have displayed animals suspended in formaldehyde, killed thousands of butterflies, had dogs run endlessly on treadmills, cats thrown up stairs and videoed, and countless other offenses,” she writes. That impulse toward cruelty for entertainment’s sake is something Fabrizio seeks to change by giving a voice to the voiceless.
The artist’s austere photographs create an artifice that mimics the unnatural conditions animals suffer under as Earth’s temperature gradually warms and plastics permeate our ecosystem. Fabrizio believes it’s our responsibility to change the increasingly dire situation: “It is my hope that in some way this work will inspire others to advocate for animals, whether it be in the form of volunteer work, donations to shelters or advocacy groups or even just eating less meat.”
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Jada Fabrizio discusses the simple joys of finishing a photograph, the decadence of espresso candy, and how we can change group shows for the better.
What one book belongs on every artist’s shelf?
Jada Fabrizio: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Practically every sentence is an image.
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
JF: John Waters, his world view is hilarious.
What are you trying to express with your art?
JF: With the Animalia series, I am focused on animal rights and habitat preservation.
Do you prefer New York- or Chicago-style pizza?
JF: I am from New York originally so any choice questions on NY will be NY!
Would you work for free in exchange for exposure?
JF: I do it all the time, something good usually happens.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
JF: Espresso candies, I can eat them all day long.
What do you consider your greatest artistic achievement?
JF: Finishing an image and then having the courage to create a new one.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
JF: Never settle for good enough. Be your own critic, stand up for your work.
Is a formal arts education worth the money?
JF: Yes, if for nothing else the interaction with other artists. It can really help with connections in certain MFA programs.
What is one thing you would like to change about the art world?
JF: No more group shows with only one image per artist. It's impossible to really see what someone is about from one image and it would definitely help to attract buyers.
Would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist?
JF: Historically significant. I am terribly immature with money.
How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the art world in the long term?
JF: I think that when this is behind us there will be a huge revival in the art world. Everyone who loves art is hungry for live venues. Movies, plays, interaction. I am very optimistic.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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