Papercut Rhinos

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In honor of Endangered Species Day, I’m posting a triptych I made in 2016. This piece was a dedication to the last 3 Northern White Rhinos alive at the time, Najin, Fatu, and Sudan. Each animal was illustrated with 4 layers of hand cut, white, Bristol paper. Titled “Traces”, these rhinos are visible only by the faintest shadows of the papers’ edges, and are nearly invisible in certain light; a species fading away. Today, following the death of the last male rhino, Sudan, in 2018, only mother and daughter, Najin and Fatu, survive. This is a countdown. This is a lament. An epitaph. But not all is lost. On Endangered Species day, and every day, we all must remember to look at, see, and celebrate the beauty and life, in all its diversity, that makes this planet a beautiful, balanced, and sustaining paradise. Earth needs biodiversity to thrive, and humans need a healthy earth— but the Earth would certainly thrive without humans. I’m not trying to condescend, I’m not trying to condemn us to a fate of self destruction—I desperately want to prevent that— but I think gratitude is often one of the best steps toward advocacy. Be grateful for the things that make up the world, the littlest and biggest creatures, the ones we see all the time, the ones we’d like to see, and the ones we don’t even know are there, because they are all truly integral. In a fabric, it might seem harmless to lose a few threads here or there, or to have things unravel in certain places, but then it all comes undone suddenly and rapidly. As a part of their impact as a species, I wanted to give each rhino some final words and proverbs: Beneath Najin is the Adinkra symbol “Asase ye Duru”— the earth has weight; beneath Fatu sits “Funtunfuneyu-denkyemfunefu”, “they share one stomach yet they fight for food”; and Sudan bears Agyinduwura,” symbolizing faithfulness, alertness, and dutifulness. . Please note: I found the meaning of the symbols poignant and inspiring, and so chose to include them in the piece. Adinkra originated in West Africa, survived as a part of Asante culture, while the Rhinos’ habitat was in parts of Central and East Africa. I am not trying to collapse culture or claim expertise 💗

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Recording process 📸

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