Now in Prism Gallery until Jan. 31st, 2017
ARTIST STATEMENT: Shannon Johnstone
These are not cute pictures of dogs. These are dogs who have been homeless for at least two weeks, and now face euthanasia if they do not find a home. Each week I bring one dog from the county animal shelter and photograph him/her at Landfill Park, a former landfill converted into a public park.
The backdrop of Landfill Park is used for two reasons. First, the dogs will end up in a landfill if they do not find a home. They will be euthanized and their bodies will be buried deep in the landfill among our trash. Below the surface at Landfill Park there are more than 25,000 dogs buried. I think of this park as a burial ground. These photographs offer the last opportunity for these dogs to find homes. The second reason for the landfill location is because the county animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value; homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures.
Shannon Johnstone received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her project, “Landfill Dogs”, has been featured in national and international exhibitions and magazines, and was most notably on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, and CNN.com. Her first book, “Landfill Dogs”, came out in November 2015. Johnstone is a tenured associate professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC.