The most important thing we can do is realize that everything we do matters. Jane Goodall
Each of these interspecies wildlife thanka paintings began inside the elephant barn at the Oregon Zoo. Upon seeing the late artist elephant RAMA paint with keeper Jeb Barsh, conservation artist Calley O’Neill saw a compelling vision of an international traveling exhibition on endangered species that she was to create with Rama and Jeb. After a spontaneous presentation to Jeb revealing what she was seeing, Calley’s life changed forever. For five years after, for a month each summer, Calley joined Rama the elephant and the innovative keeper in the world’s first true collaboration of an endangered species animal and an artist. Jeb was the creative contact that enabled this to happen. Calley’s vision revealed an immersive experience of art and ecology that would trigger the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world to act on behalf of nature and the future.
Based on research on the Biodiversity Hotspots and her long time interest and study of endangered /ecosystems, Calley mixed a different palette of colors for each work. She chose the colors (they often chose her) based on their power to express a species, habitat, or emotional response. Rama enthusiastically painted each canvas however he wished, by spray, brush, and trunk. Through the trio’s intense energy exchange, the most extraordinary collaboration ensued. The sophistication of Rama’s abstracts has blown away even the most ardent and erudite abstract expressionist aficionados.
Of the 36 paintings planned (one for every 10 degrees of the Earth) 20 are thus far complete. Work is ongoing with powerful memories of having been being the only artist to collaborate with Rama. While many had asked over the years, it was the vision that sparked permission to enter the barn and work with Rama and Jeb.
Each painting measures approximately 7' by 5’, and will be fabric framed following the inspiration of traditional Tibetan Thanka scroll painting and ancient illuminated manuscripts.
An International Traveling Exhibition of Endangered Species
Dedicated to the Children of the World by Calley O'Neill with Rama the Elephant
AN EPIC JOURNEY OF ART AND SOUL FOR THE EARTH
RAMA: AMBASSADOR FOR THE ENDANGERED ONES
Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak