This month’s featured artist is DJ Geribo, from Alton in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. DJ paints mini portraits of animal eyes in acrylic for the non-profit organization Eye Help Animals which she and her husband co-founded to benefit wildlife. She also has a fine art website where you can see her other works in oil, pastel and watercolor.
LA: How long have you been practicing your art?
DJ: About 15 years, but the last 8 years have been full time.
LA: What is it about your Eye Help Animals artwork that made you choose it to be featured:
DJ: This is my passion. This is my purpose. In the 15 years since I first started painting, and in the lifetime that I have been exploring art in its various forms, I believe it has all led me to this point. I can do what I love doing—painting, and I can help wildlife conservation and habitat preservation around the world.
LA: How has completing this artwork made you a better artist?
DJ: I’m not finished, as I mentioned. It is an on-going project, but it gave me a purpose beyond just making paintings. I’ve always loved wildlife and always donated to various wildlife organizations. I’m so happy that my husband and co-owner of Eye Help Animals, LLC and I have found a purpose that is so thrilling and satisfying to us on so many levels. I don’t know if painting eyes has made me a better artist, but I think it has made me a better person.
LA: What made you choose the subject matter for this artwork?
DJ: The size of the canvases dictated that it be something small. They were 2” by 2”, so there wasn’t room for much more than an eye, so that’s what I decided to paint.
LA: Do you feel that your interpretation of this subject matter has drawn upon archetypal knowledge or subliminal factors? Is there anything “under the surface” of the composition?
DJ: The original purpose of painting the eyes has definitely changed. At first they were just wildlife eyes, and I though about selling the canvases. Then it evolved into a whole business, Eye Help Animals, LLC, with various products and a mission and a vision.
LA: Is this a “stand alone” piece or part of a larger body of work?
DJ: Each eye stands alone because we are contacting organizations around the world that support and protect the many wildlife eyes that I have painted. Although I now have 32 eyes, I think each one stands on its own as a representative of the animal we are helping to protect. And yet as a group, they symbolize the mission of the organization.
LA: I believe that all artists evolve somewhat with each piece completed. What direction do you feel you are headed? (looser style, more detail, different subject matter, etc)
DJ: Although the wildlife eyes are very detailed, in my other artwork I have been working towards a looser, more painterly style. I feel that if you want a really photo-realistic picture, you might as well just take a photograph. Paintings need to look like paintings and that comes from a painterly style, which is my view of realism with my own artistic freedom thrown in.
LA: Anything else you’d like us to know about the work?
DJ: We are so fortunate, and here is an example of how I know we are doing the right thing. Things are happening without a lot of effort. We just partnered with Zoo Atlanta in the “Give So They Stay” campaign to help raise funds to keep the Giant Pandas in their zoo. The pandas are on loan from China and the cost is $500,00 per year to keep each panda at the zoo. Zoo Atlanta is one of only 4 zoos in the US that have the Giant Pandas on display.
The Eye Help Animals website offers a number of products featuring DJ’s work. Twenty five percent of the proceeds of each product go toward these and other organizations:
- Defenders of Wildlife
- The Fund for Animals
- Loon Preservation Committee
- National Parks Conservation Association
- National Wildlife Federation
- The Roar Foundation – Shambala Preserve
- Sierra Club
- Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
- World Wildlife Fund
- Yellowstone Association
- Zoo Atlanta
I hope you enjoy these profiles of other artists and will leave comments if you do. I am also always interested in learning about new artists, so if you know of someone you would like to see featured here, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.