Shannon Johnstone

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Shannon Johnstone is Professor of Art at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC and previous CAF grantee. She received a grant for an art exhibition called “All Creatures Great and Small,” which will feature the work of five female artists, including herself, Lee Deigaard, Jo-Anne McArthur, Traer Scott, and L.A. Watson. She writes:

Animal advocacy and ethical non-human animal representation are not typically themes explored with depth or breadth within fine arts. Our goal is to expand aesthetic inquiry and engage in the larger ongoing discourse on our relationship with animals. We are curating an art exhibition exploring moral considerations toward animal representation.

2020 Updates:
The CAF grant enabled Shannon to host six outside programming events in association with the exhibition, including workshops, panel discussions, and community events. It also helped fund a full color exhibition catalog with the artwork, artist statements, and an essay by art historian Keri Cronin. The exhibition was very successful, and has received testimonials from students discussing a shift in mindset towards nonhumans as a subject matter. The exhibition received publicity from LEnscratch and FeatureShoot, two prominent photography blogs. Shannon has noted that it was great to bring together an exhibition of female photographers who work on behalf of nonhumans, and that the exhibition had challenged her and made her look at the world in a more inclusive and compassionate way. 

She had hoped to make the exhibition a travelling exhibition, but now is interested in having it online. She is also currently working with writer Teri Saylor on a children’s short story about the adventures of two adopted dogs, and a cat, as inspired by photographs Shannon has taken since the start of the pandemic.

2021 Updates:

The exhibition’ success also prompted Shannon to develop a lecture that will be given to all future Photography 1 students in Meredith College.  Shannon will enroll in the Human-Animal Studies PhD program at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 2022 to further analyze the question— “what good can come from bearing witness?”— that arose from the panel discussion.

She has also begun a new photographic series called “Roadside Zoo” that examines the boredom and suffering of the animals in private zoos.