January 31 – April 11, 2015
Murray and Ledger Galleries
In 1970, British veterinarian and writer James Herriot published his first of two novels chronicling his experiences with animals and their owners. If Only They Could Talk is a semi-autobiographical anthology of stories from the perspective of a young 1930s vet. Although animals are most often the protagonists in Herriot’s stories, his underlying theses are how we as humans are ultimately conditioned by our animals and how our relationships with our pets often say more about us than they do about the animals.
It only makes sense that we are influenced by animals. It has been programmed into our collective unconscious for millennia. Beginning in the Paleolithic era, prehistoric artists painted herds of animals along cave walls. It is speculated that these primitive paintings were intended to celebrate, or perhaps worship, animals’ important contributions to human survival. Although their creative objectives have evolved alongside civilization, artists continue to use animals as primary subjects for their works.
In this exhibition, artworks from Polk Museum of Art’s permanent collection are displayed according to their focus on our animal cohabitants.