If you live in the Vancouver area, you may have come across illuminating projections of animated wild animals. These artworks are created by animal artist Sarah Ronald, a recipient of The Fur-Bearers Arts and Science Scholarship (see our previous post featuring her work).
Sarah has created hand-drawn animations of wildlife that are seen – and often encountered – in British Columbia. Her project, Encounter-Encounter, presents these animations in public spaces, allowing audiences to engage with the visuals and reflect on their experiences and encounters with wild animals in their daily lives.
This project comes on the heels of high profile incidents that occurred in Stanley Park, where eleven coyotes were tragically killed in 2021, reflecting a breakdown of peaceful human-animal coexistence in urban environments. To honour these lives lost, some of Sarah’s animations are being featured in Stanley Park. For a schedule of the remaining pop-up projections and to read more about her project, visit Sarah’s website at sarahronald.com/encounterencounter-pop-ups. To view a video of one of Sarah’s animations, click here to visit her Instagram page.
We followed up with Sarah to discuss her project and its impact.
Q: What animals did you choose to animate for your project? Why did you feature these animals in particular?
A: I have selected a few more animals that tend to be of concern in urban and suburban areas, so this version of Encounter has a raccoon, a cougar, and a family of black bears in addition to the three coyotes that were the heart of the original animation. With my next round of updates I hope to include an owl, a bat, and a few other land-based animals that often end up needing the help of wildlife rehabilitators. From there I’ll just keep adding more and more BC wildlife and see where the project leads.
Q: How does your project promote coexistence with wildlife and how has the public responded to your projections?
A: This project generates a lot of dialog, both when it is presented live and also when I share it through social media. While the discussions vary greatly around coexistence and our current responsibilities towards wildlife (or lack of awareness of even having responsibilities), this project provides a unique engagement opportunity, particularly with an in-person audience.
People who stop to watch usually ask what inspired me to make the animation, which leads me to sharing my personal ‘why’ for the project (storytelling about my own encounters and feelings of concern for wildlife that share the land with us). This dialogue often leads to viewers sharing their own personal stories about wildlife encounters. It seems quite simple, but the back and forth while standing there just watching Encounter-Encounter is important in terms of animal advocacy. It’s the experience of talking about it that builds advocacy.
Q: What is the impact you hope to achieve through this project?
A: For me this project is about two somewhat immeasurable aspects.
First, it is about creating a unique space to sow seeds of respect and awareness towards wildlife.
The second is more intrinsic, and it relates to the intentional act of this project: starting with hand drawing each animal frame by frame, then scanning each individual drawing, to turning the scanned drawings into an animation, to watching weather and sunset reports, charging my little generator, packing my gear, getting to the projection destination, finding the right foliage or wall, setting up and projecting for an hour or so, and documenting and dialoging with passerby’s. And sometimes no one else is out so it’s just me, my projection, the night and likely some actual wildlife watching nearby.
I see all of these acts as balancing out or in a small way countering the acts of humans causing harm towards wildlife. These acts are apologies, but they are also about honouring wildlife. In a very human way I am holding space for them.
Encounter-Encounter has a potentially huge ripple effect, and I wholeheartedly believe that it is about optimism and promise. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement with this project.