Tilikum’s Nightmare

 22” x 30”  Arches Paper matted on Wood Panel, Acrylic, Watercolor, and Colored Pencil. 

 Full Painting, it took almost as much effort into trying to photograph it as it did to paint it!

 There is a lot to say about this painting. Everything about it from the technique down to the overall meaning of it is awfully complex.  This painting ended up being the most difficult yet the most meaningful piece I’ve done, hopefully I effectively depicted the overall feeling of panic, terror, and complete despair. 

 I had been following this issue of sentient beings like Dolphins and Orca whales being held in permanent captivity after seeing the documentary, “The Cove.” I had become even more serious about following the issue after hearing news of a highly experienced Sea World Trainer being attacked and killed by a “captive” Orca whale, named Tilikum.  When #BlackFish came out, I bought my ticket in advance and saw it the weekend it opened. 

 Though I already knew how morally corrupt places like #SeaWorld are, I wasn’t prepared to see how incredibly fucked they really were.  It was no different than what I had already known about circuses where tigers and elephants suffer the same fate.

 The idea of this painting formed in my head after watching the actual process of the capture of the Orcas.  It was one of the most horrifying things to see a pod of Orca whales being driven into a cove, by noisy speed boats, explosives, and men with nets who would then separate the adult Orcas from their children.  You could see the adult Orcas screaming and trying to push through the nets; they knew what was going on.

The juvenile Orcas were then taken from the sea and bought to a glorified swimming pool where they would spend the rest of their lives performing stupid tricks in front of a roaring audience. 

 Orca whales, like Dolphins, are self-aware and like human beings, never fully leave their parents.  They’re bonded to their families for life and with that being said, the capture and kidnapping of these Orcas, for me was the most impactful.  After learning about “Tilikum” and seeing his history, I saw this image in my head…it’s what I can perceive to be both a memory and a nightmare that will forever haunt #Tilikum and every other Orca whale who had suffered the same history and will suffer the same fate as Tilikum.  Even Orcas born in captivity will suffer the fate of being separated from their biological families and shipped over to other Marine Circus establishments.  

 The impact of seeing this lead to the image that you see here.  If I could fly down to #Orlando and be at the front of Sea World with picket signs and handing out brochures, I would but unfortunately, my art is the only way I really could being attention to the issue and so I hope I’m successful in that.  Please remember that when going to these Marine Circuses, you’re supporting the pain and suffering of these sentient beings…that doesn’t make you some “bleeding heart,” it just means that your heart and conscience actually exist.