Found But Not Lost

at Bay Ridge Animal Hospital for the Inaugural Bay Ridge 5th Avenue Storefront Art Walk, 2010

Installation of scavenged stuffed animals, ready-made doll, bandages, hay, pet toys, bird feeders, metal storage system, felt, wood, and marker on masonite board

Originating from of the practice of taxidermy, the art of preserving once-living animals, the stuffed animal has evolved into a common part of modern childhood.  Today’s stuffed animals are the synthetic descendents of their post-mortal forbearers, and function mostly as toys for children. Like cats and dogs in developed countries where pedigree matters, some lucky few stuffed animals go on to become prized collectible items while many are discarded or “exiled.”

The stuffed animals featured in this project were scavenged from several Goodwill and Salvation Army stores in New York City.  They vary in physical condition and are essentially discarded toys that once brought joy, perhaps, but have outlived their intended purpose for their original owner and are now waiting for their turn to serve their next owner - that is, if they are fortunate enough to be purchased before they are destroyed for good.  As most people favor adopting kittens and puppies over adult cats and dogs, so do they seem to prefer new stuffed animals over used.

Found But Not Lost
is about the journey to pet adoption, as seen from the perspective of (stuffed) animals. To be interpreted as a linear visual narrative that begins on the left, animals are in bandages, suggesting injuries, whether physical or mental, that they have sustained. As we move on to the cages towards the right, the animals are seen to be recovering, requiring fewer and eventually no bandages, suggesting that progress has been made and their healing is nearly completed. At the end, an animal is released from the cage to the welcoming arms of its new owner.

This project is made possible by the support of The Bay Ridge 5th Avenue Business Improvement District.
Special Thanks to the staff of the Bay Ridge Animal Hospital.