Robert L. Peters

28 July 2011

Powder has passed on…

Vancouver, British Columbia

Sadly, my artist friend Jennifer Romita’s cat Powder passed on yesterday (not easy to take, I know how it feels). Powder has loomed large in Jennifer‘s work. Here’s some of what she’s shared

I share my space with a small domestic cat named Powder. As cats go, she is particularly meek and fidgety, and certainly not the brightest. But what she lacks in understanding, she makes up for in affection. She wouldn’t hurt a fly even if she could. And though I may never dress her or take her around town in a stroller, Powder is very much like a child to me. I rarely think about her cousins in the wild that would sooner hunt me than see me as a reliable daily source of kitty treats.

We pet owners forget that our furry children are animals whose bodies and instincts have been honed over thousands of generations. Ironically, Powder is at her fiercest and most feral-looking when she’s preparing for a nap. When she yawns, I get a glimpse of the wild animal stalking around in her genes. So in honour of my gentle beast, I have tried to paint a portrait that captures this part of her nature that so often goes unnoticed. As this piece came together over the course of a month, the image itself began to alter the nature of my domestic environment. My space slowly became dominated by a savage beast I hardly recognized. The energy and wildness of Powder’s portrait is an absurd foil to her quiet presence.

I question our connection to adopted animal companions. Is it just anthropomorphism that distorts our bond, or do we perceive pets as genuinely less animal—and somehow more human—as a result of that bond? Whichever the case may be, I suspect that one of the essential properties of domestication is its capacity to further disconnect us from the “wild beasts” in nature, and ultimately, with the natural world around us.

Images: ‘RAWR’ and ‘Nose,’ both acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 40″, 2009.

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