Past Exhibitions

Home & Beast

The Marriage of Art, Science & Philosophy

Artist Clyde Jones w/ PeeWee, Photo by Roger Manley

October 7, 2006 - September 2, 2007

The following exhibition text and bits of wit and wisdom appear throughout the six galleries that make up Home & Beast.

The Galleries of Home & Beast:

"Animal Tales," explores animal themes and symbology in mythology (including significant collections of images by Christine Sefolosha as well as paintings by David Borghi).

"Noble Beasts," features animals as muse: a menagerie of animal figures, predominantly sculpture (including Clyde Jones' "critters" and the Archuletas' animals)

"Grazeland," the relevance of animals in everyday life--as pets, on farms, and as food (including the plans for humane slaughterhouses by Temple Grandin and the kinetic sculptures of Vollis Simpson)

"Home Sweet Home," memories of home life and what, in fact, constitutes a home (including the models of Bruce Bickford and the paintings of William Kurelek)

"Best Nests," outsider artist environments (installations by Loring Cornish and Mr. Imagination)

"Homecoming," a look at "final resting places" (Ghanaian art coffins as well as cremation urns by various artists including Nancy Josephson)

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DEDICATION TO TEMPLE GRANDIN AND ELLIS ROSEN

HOME & BEAST, our American Visionary Art Museum's twelfth original mega-exhibition, is dedicated to two individuals. Both have made big differences - one, to the well-being of literally millions of animals all across America, and the other right here at the Museum, as faithful volunteer and ardent pet advocate.

The first honoree is the transcendent Temple Grandin, an autistic adult, a scientist and an author, who successfully harnessed her extreme sensitivities to revolutionize, with humane procedures that make good animal sense, all aspects of animal delivery to slaughter in the American meat industry.

After study of all the ramifications--to our health, ecology and animal welfare--associated with meat consumption one might well ask, "Wouldn't it be better just to eliminate the meat industry entirely?" Perhaps, but such thinking is blind to the overwhelming reality that an estimated 7 billion farm animals die each year to fill the enormous demand for meat in the giant US food industry. Just how all these animals live and die now need be of great importance to all of us.

Grandin's insights into animal behavior convinced McDonald's and others to implement her comprehensive list of procedures to minimize stress and pain to their market-bound animals. Her actual animal-benefiting designs are among the featured works of art on exhibit in Home & Beast. Her book, Animals in Translation is our recommended, life-changing and life-honoring, read. Further, we celebrate other kindred folks, like musician Dave Matthews and entrepreneur Sandy Lerner, who are champions and providers of organic and humanely raised and harvested beef. They, like Temple, inspire others into action.

Our second honoree is our tireless volunteer, Ellis Rosen. Ellis loves "The Visionary" almost as much as he loves his constant companions, Gregory, Izzy and Sammy-his dog and two giant cats. Ellis' love of animals and the generosity in sharing his home with our museum staff did much to inspire our choice to explore with you the very notion of "home" together with our relationship and responsibility to animals.

Like Ellis, Abraham Lincoln believed, "I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."

Generous support for Home & Beast was provided by The Maryland State Arts Council, The Baltimore Commission on Arts & Sciences, Mayor O'Malley, The Baltimore City Council and The People of Baltimore, St. Paul Travelers Foundation, and Cho Benn Holback + Associates

INTRODUCTION

"You are a guest of nature - Behave!" - Frederick Hundertwasser

"Tutto il mondo é paese," proclaim the Italians - "All the world is one small hometown," and the well-being of all its inhabitants is intimately entwined.

HOME & BEAST is our American Visionary Art Museum's twelfth thematic mega-exhibition. Opening for press review on Saint Francis (The Patron Saint of Animals & Ecology) Day, "HOME & BEAST" is a lively public exploration of the very notion of home,' as well as an artful love song promoting a far more responsible relationship to the animals with which we share our one world home.

Frogs, often dubbed earth's environmental "canaries in the mines" for their first-responder susceptibility to both water and land disruption and toxicity, are dying and exhibiting birth deformities at alarming rates. Since the 1950's, conservative analysis puts worldwide amphibian decline at a rapid and devastating 50%. They are dying due to the imbalanced environmental conditions caused by "modern" human behavior. Some might rightfully joke, if earth was a reality show, and land, air, water, humans, flora and fauna were all given equal vote, there would be little doubt just who would be "voted off" the planet and fast. Linguistically, "beast" has come to epitomize all that is wild, and "home" conjures up the very image of domesticity. Yet humankind alone is earth's greatest threat to the sanctity of all habitats.

Viewed through the lens of art, science, humor and philosophy, the exhibition's unifying theme is this notion of one home - personal and collective. During the course of this exhibition, our Community Gallery will gather poignant, first-hand testimonies of just what "home" and the animals in our lives can mean - contributed via a special partnership honoring the experience and wisdom of Baltimore-area homeless families as well as by our animal-loving or service-animal dependent visitors of all ages.

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
- St. Francis of Assisi

ANIMAL TALES

"In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals..."
- Joseph Campbell

When we assume that a fox is sly and untrustworthy, or that a pig, dirty and lazy, we project human traits onto animals. America's Founding Fathers selected a bird of prey, the bald eagle, as their choice of national symbol for its projected embodiment of majestic strength and courage. Outvoted, Benjamin Franklin fought hard for his pick- the turkey- a non-predatory and peaceful, domestic bird.

From childhood on, fairytales starring big bad wolves, apocalyptic red hens, and whole families of bears, begin us on our path to ascribing very human characteristics to our non-human animal brethren. As a teaching-tool for wise negotiation of life's pitfalls, the classic Aesop's Fables and Rudyard Kipling's animal stories can't be beat. After all, the power of myth and of art has always been the transcultural capacity to invade our imaginations, via the side door of symbol and metaphor, to successfully transmit enduring, full-frontal, truths. This odd, grassroots use of animal symbology gets maintained right through adult modern life - financial markets get tagged as "bullish," or "bearish," our sports teams are named things like-The Ravens, The Orioles, and The Colts; and fraternal organizations take on animal names-The Moose, The Elks, or in the 1960's-The Black Panthers.

For the Navajo, the appearance in dream or reality of a coyote- "The Trickster" -was a warning of deception to the beholder. The origin of the Chinese Zodiac is tied to Lord Buddha's honoring the first twelve animals who bowed in recognition of his divinity with dominion, in turn, over humanity of their respective character traits.

Shamans from every continent have donned animal masks, furs, horns, bones, claws and teeth to summon powers, real or imagined, embodied by these talismans. Plains Indians have sought rejuvenation of their spirit and natural surroundings by honoring the sacred powers of the buffalo and the eagle through ceremonial Dance. Aboriginal humanity was long enriched by the perception that relationship with animals and all of nature was something profound, instructive, and of utmost importance.

Where is Pan today-the wise man-goat, lord of nature that first century Christianty declared "dead"? Pan, whose sensuous dance and music making echoes endless delight in the raw rhythyms of Nature and from whose name the word "panic" was derived-after the utter dread Pan instills in those thoughtless humans who divorce themselves from respectful communion with all their fellow living beings.

You know you're a cute little heartbreaker
Foxy
You know you're a sweet little lovemaker
Foxy
I wanna take you home,
I won't do you no harm, no
You've got to be all mine, all mine
Ooh, foxy lady
- Jimi Hendrix, "Foxy Lady"

WHAT CRUELTY TO ANIMALS SAYS ABOUT US

"To insult someone we call him 'bestial.' For deliberate cruelty and nature, 'human' might be the greater insult." - Isaac Asimov, science fiction writer

In the 1970's FBI profilers began to recognize a disturbingly close relationship between childhood acts of serious and repeated cruelty to animals and the early case histories of violent offenders, serial killers, and child molesters. By the 1990's, teenage student shooters like those at the notorious Columbine High School were added to their list. "Murderers very often start out by killing or torturing animals as kids," observed Robert K. Ressler, former FBI Serial Killer Profiler.

Famed anthropologist, Margaret Mead, cautioned, "One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it." Conversely, adult or child cruelty to animals also raises a red flag about the treatment and safety of children in the animal-abuser's home. A study by the Royal SPCA of Great Britain found that 83% of families with a history of animal abuse had also been identified at high risk for child abuse and neglect.

However, just as cruelty to animals has come to portend violent behavior, kindness toward animals often indicates healthy relationships among people. As early as 1933, the National PTA Congress concluded, "Children trained to extend justice, kindness, and mercy to animals become more just, kind, and considerate in their relations with each other."

KINKY'S SALSA AND THE NOBLE BEAST

Kinky Friedman is a humorist, author, and the charismatic underdog candidate in the 2006 race for Governor of The State of Texas. His legendary 70's band, "Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys" was best known for their classic anti-bigot anthem, "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore." But Kinky is also an ardent animal lover. With the support of pals Willie Nelson and the late Texas Governor Ann Richards, he founded The Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a "never-kill shelter" that takes in abandoned and mistreated animals. "We want the dogs nobody wants. If they have a problem, that's not a problem for us." Kinky boasts, "We've saved more animals than Noah."

His profits from his salsa line, "Kinky Friedman's Private Stock," go entirely to help support his Texas-based animal welfare charity. Raised on the wisdom from his dad, "Leave the world a better place than when you found it," Kinky adds his own insight, "We can learn a lot from animals-how to be loyal, how to be ready for fun, how to get over things quick." Each of these qualities is evident in both his charitable work on behalf of animals and his exciting foray into Texas politics.

To order Kinky's salsa and support the animals he takes good care of, visit kinkyfriedman.com and smile.

CHIMPS, BONOBOS & US

We humans share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos. It turns out, chimps and bonobos are even more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas. Christian Bernard, M.D., the great pioneer in human-to-human heart transplant, had an encounter with lab-housed chimpanzees that was to forever change his life:

I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland. They lived next to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a [heart] donor. When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days. The incident made a deep impression on me. I vowed never again to experiment with such sensitive creatures.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama has taught, "Life is as dear to the mute creature as it is to a man. Just as man wants happiness and fears pain, just as man wants to live and not to die, so do other creatures."

DOLPHINS - ARE THEY SMARTER THAN US?

"Dolphins mate 365 days a year... no wonder they're smiling." - Modern Maturity Magazine

Dolphins have brains about the size of humans'. Some have been taught to respond to approximately 150 sign language gestures and several thousand combinations thereof. Their own complex ultrasonic signals present the possibility of a language and thought pattern still mysterious to our own understanding. Dolphins exhibit a keen sense of humor and will mischievously fake completion of a command to swim back for a fish reward. And if rewarded with a fish for retrieving a single object, they might shred the same object into numerous pieces to "qualify" for more fish rewards. You can't blame them for trying! These aquatic mammals have a range of hearing five times greater than that of human beings and have been the subject of numerous accounts of life-saving interventions, coming to the aid of both humans and other species.

"It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reasons."
- Douglas Noel Adams, Author

BIRDS IN FLIGHT AND IN LOVE

Geese, ducks, swans, pelicans, ibis, cormorants, gulls and shorebirds are among birds that fly in V-shaped formation, successfully negotiating flight over vast distances. They can do so because the lift created from flying together in this special pattern permits the entire flock to travel a whopping 70% greater distance than if each individual bird were to expend the very same flapping effort and go it alone. The leader, the bird at the apex of the "V" has it toughest, and when tired, will rotate back into the middle of the fanned wedge-line to let another take on the arduous lead. Geese rhythmically honk to encourage the leader to keep up speed. When a goose is sick or is wounded, two of its flock will follow it down, helping to protect the injured goose and remaining until it is well-behavior akin to the best of human Samaritans.

Ninety-one percent of all birds are monogamous - faithful to one mate at a time - or in some bird species, mating with just one partner for life. We laud this notion of enduring partnership in the avian kingdom as we are faced with the simple reality that between 40% and 50% of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. We simply love tales of animal loyalty and dedication. Take the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins living in New York City's Central Park Zoo - They were observed cuddling and sharing a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others started hatching eggs, they wanted to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they brought an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and started caring for it-keeping it warm and protecting it from the elements. They had little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decided they deserved a chance at having their own family and gave them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers did a great job of hatching their daughter Tango, and the three can still be seen living happily at the zoo today. The story of this "modern" penguin family is now a beloved illustrated children's book: And Tango Makes Three.

"From [birds] we can learn to lift each other up, to offer each other support and encouragement and how difficult it is to always be a leader." - Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt

WONDER DOGS & HEROES

"Who can believe that there is no soul behind those luminous eyes!" - Theophile Gautier

There is a monument in Marshall, Missouri to "Jim, The Wonder Dog" (1925-1937), a black and white setter. It is said that Jim was able to follow complex directions spoken or written in a half-dozen different languages. During a joint session of the Missouri Legislature, Jim demonstrated he could accurately interpret commands tapped-out in Morse code. When presented with the list of entries, Jim correctly picked the winner of The Kentucky Derby seven years in a row and was renowned for identifying the sex of unborn children in dozens of pregnant townswomen. After extensive independent testing, even the most skeptical university professors from the fields of psychology, agriculture, and veterinary medicine concluded that Jim was truly a wonder. No trickery or collusion from Jim's owner, Sam Van Arsdale, was ever found. Van Arsdale never sought profits from any of Jim's predictions and refused all commercial endorsements - turning down offers of big Hollywood contracts, lucrative dog food promotions, and six figure bids to buy his beloved Jim.

That there may never be another dog quite like Jim doesn't believe the fact that almost all dogs can hear and smell in a range far beyond human ability. That dogs also exhibit a capacity for extreme faithfulness to humans has made their talents particularly invaluable. Most people are familiar with how important "seeing eye" dogs are to their sight-impaired owners, but in the last few years the number and variety of trained service dogs has skyrocketed by the thousands. Service dogs help warn their owners of oncoming epileptic seizures, diabetic sugar imbalances, and panic attacks. Because dogs have a keen perception of time, they are also being trained to inform forgetful owners when to take medicines.

Since the ancient days when Alexander the Great built a giant bejeweled monument in tribute to his brave French mastiff, Peritas, dogs have proven heroes in times of war and natural disaster. A statue of the sled dog Balto now stands in New York's Central Park honoring the sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska. The antitoxin Balto valiantly carried was transported in blizzard conditions from Anchorage to combat a deadly outbreak of diptheria and the lifesaving run is now celebrated with the annual Iditarod race.

As a modern hero, Daisy, the golden retriever service dog to blind companion Jim Crane, can't be beat. Dogs are simply without parallel in the search for bodies trapped beneath collapsed buildings. Decorated with the Canine Medal of Honor by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and celebrated by the NYFD, Daisy is credited with leading 967 people to safety through the smoky dark chaos of the collapsing World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Daisy returned three times to retrieve people trapped in the disaster, despite a broken leg and severely burned four paws.

"Every animal knows more than you do." - Native American Proverb

THE LEGACY OF BAD SCIENCE & THE HOPE FOR THE GOOD: DOGS AS CANCER SLEUTHS

Legend has it that scientist, philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes, took his wife's pet dog and nailed each paw to a board. He then flayed the dog alive, instructing his students to observe the circulatory system at work and to ignore the cries of the dog as mere mechanistic artifact - like steam whistling when brought to boil in a kettle. Although Descartes can rightfully be credited with contributing significant insight into physiology, a great deal of blame for shifting the perception of animals from feeling and pleasure-seeking beings to things can be traced to his powerful influence on scientific thought.

Over the last two decades, however, there has never been better or more abundant research all over the world that establishes the capacity of animal intelligence and communication. This research has resulted in very readable and important books like Pleasurable Kingdom by Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home by Rupert Sheldrake, and The Octopus and The Orangutan: More True Tales of Animal Intrique, Intelligence, and Ingenuity, by Eugene Linden. What these studies are telling us is that many of those things we were taught distinguish our human selves from the other 4,000 mammals such as, "only humans make and use tools" or the fact that we possess a sense of humor - were just plain wrong.

Perhaps no recent scientific study has captured our imagination more than the recent medical trials that successfully trained dogs to identify the presence or absence of breast and lung cancer from smelling breath samples of known cancer patients and non-patients. Their preliminary diagnostic accuracy ranged in 90th percentiles. In some cases, the dogs would insist on the presence of cancer in a particular breath sample that could only be confirmed by established diagnostic instrumentation six months to a year later.

What science like this heralds is a new age of greater and more respectful appreciation for animals as fellow living creatures with capacities and quality of life-potential just as great, or in excess, to that of our own.

THE TOP 10 THINGS MEAT-LOVERS NEED TO KNOW

If you love the taste of meat, you're not alone. Each year, an estimated 7 billion animals are slaughtered to meet the demand for meat products in the US - poultry, beef, pork, and lamb. What we all need to know is that eating meat, and just what kind of meat one eats, has a significant impact on our environment and on one's health. And for the complete picture, we need to know just how market-bound animals are bred, live, and die.

For your consideration:

Environmental Impact

1. Precious water supply: More than 1/2 of all water used in the US goes for livestock sewage systems and for growing feed. On average, a pound of meat requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce, a pound of wheat - just 25. Newsweek put it, "the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer could float a destroyer."

2. Air & Water pollution: US livestock produce 20 times more excrement than do humans, constituting 12% of all ozone-depleting methane emissions and raising ammonia and nitrate levels in drinking water to dangerous levels. Residents living near factory farms report a far greater incidence of serious illness than is normal.

3. Soil: 200 years ago, American topsoil depth averaged 21 inches - today it's only 6 inches and continues eroding. Through the demands of feeding giant livestock herds, meat production is responsible for nearly 85% of this erosion and is also the major factor in global desertification.

4. Land Use: 260 million acres of US forest and countless acres of global rainforests have been cleared to grow crops for livestock - causing approx. 1,000 plant species to become extinct each year. 80% of US corn and soybeans that are grown is used to feed livestock. That same amount of corn and soybeans would feed 1.3 billion people per year.

5. Energy Efficiency: The world's petroleum reserves could last 20 times longer if used for food production other than meat. An acre cultivated in spinach yields 26 times more protein than it does for beef.

Health Considerations

6. Major Illness: Heart attack is the most common cause of death in the US - occurring in 50% of all meat-eating men and in only 15% of vegetarian men. Time magazine reported "in regions where meat is scarce, cardiovascular disease is unknown." Women who eat meat daily have 4 times the chance of developing breast cancer than women who eat meat less than once a week. Meat contains no essential nutrients that cannot be obtained in higher quality from plant sources.

7. Toxins: Euopean countries have banned nearly all imports of American beef due its high antibiotic content. 55% of all antibiotics used in the US are fed to livestock - creating higher levels of resistance in human consumers. Most factory farmed meat contains 14 times more pesticides (such as Dioxin and DDT) than does plant food. Its emphasis on damp, dark, cramped, and unnatural mass production methods rountinely incorporates hormone injections, pesticides, insecticides, and toxic waste.

8. No meat-eating in Eden: Our non-pointed teeth and human digestive system were not designed for eating meat - a natural carnivore's bowel is relatively short, smooth inside, and contains much stronger digestive acids. 98% of all US milk is factory produced and utilizes high levels of artificial hormones to increase its production - thought a major factor in early onset of puberty. On average, vegetarians not only live six years longer than do meat eaters, but they live healthier lives with far fewer incidences of cancer, stroke, diabetes, and colitis.

Animal Welfare

9. Crowding & Overproduction: On the old family farm, a healthy sow naturally gave birth to about 6 piglets a year. Today's factory farms aim at manipulating a sow to produce 45 per year. Their pigs are stacked, two and three decks high, in tight spaces where their legs can become crippled from disuse. Male cattle are often castrated to make them more docile and to promote fat production - anesthetics are seldom used. Egg factories weed out male chicks, disposing about half a million per day, into containers where they are crushed or suffocated to be disposed of or are ground alive for use in animal feed. In addition to other livestock, there are over a billioncattle on this earth. Together, their weight is more than the combined weight of the entire human population! The beef industry works hard to unnaturally sustain their numbers.

10. Contented Cows? John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, describes the life of a dairy cow living in today's modern milk factory: She "is bred, fed, medicated, inseminated and manipulated to a single purpose - maximum milk production at minimum cost...and is kept pregnant nearly all the time with her young taken from her almost immediately after birth."

What you can do for yourself, the animals, and the earth is eat less flesh. And if you do eat meat, choose meat that has been raised using organic methods and under certified humane conditions. If you decide to try to become a vegetarian, or just more of one, learn what makes for an optimal healthy and balanced diet to maximize your chance of succeeding. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has introduced a revised recommended "New Four Food Groups." They are: fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes."

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." - Albert Einstein

HOME

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." - Maya Angelou

The notion that each of us is ultimately our own inescapable home has been echoed throughout the ages and rediscovered by enlightened people everywhere. One of the most beautiful expressions of this thought was written by the wise Sufi poet Jelaludin Rumi more than seven centuries ago:

THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
- RUMI, as translated by Coleman Barks

It has been said that we all pass from "womb to womb." In utero, we have all our needs met - shelter, warmth, and nourishment until we grow too big and are readied for birth into a new home - the womb of the surface of the earth enveloped by its protective surround of breathable atmosphere. Finally, we pass our bodies back to the earth. Our language often reflects this cyclical certainty. For example, the word in Hebrew for grave and the word for womb share the exact same root.

"The body is not a home, but an inn, and that only briefly."
- Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD

BEST NESTS

"We can learn a lot from birds: they are nature's own talented decorators and home renovators...I know, "feathering a nest" is the metaphor most design aficionados prefer. But take the time to look at a bird's nest in its unadorned state. You'll notice it's quite an achievement: cozy and warm, ergonomic and sturdy, despite being constructed with wildly disparate found elements, whether twigs or leaves or - poignantly - paper towels."
- Todd Oldham, Home Fashion Designer & Author, Hand Made Modern

The single most common theme of visionary artists worldwide is their personal reconstruction of The Garden of Eden - or some other utopian, personal world. They do so in their own backyards or within the intimacy of their own homes. They wouldn't trade what they have made to live in anybody else's mansion. Surrounding themselves, every inch, with their own self-reliant, creative expressions echoes the freedom of the birds who build their nests where they like and the butterflies who cocoon in preparation for their transformation into something extraordinary.

"Look! Look! Look! God Almighty, Has anyone living or dead done anything like this? Would you believe I done all this?" - Clarence Schmidt, Visionary Creator, House of Mirrors

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

"Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

It is said that of all the senses, smell lingers longest and most precisely in our memory banks. Is it any wonder that food traditions, with their specific life-imprinting aromas and tastes, often form the dominant and most pleasurable association to appreciating and carrying forward our world's diverse holiday traditions? The biting horseradish of the Jewish Passover, the pine scent of a fresh Christmas tree, the sweet potato casserole served up with hot turkey, gravy and stuffing are but a few examples of the enduring power foods and smells wield over family.

Smells are like fingerprints, the scent of each one of us unlike that of any other person - enabling bloodhounds to track individuals over vast distances. Homes can acquire their own special smell, too-one that locks that place in our memory.

Our memories of home often become enduringly precious to each of us. Artist and author Sandra Magsamen put it, "Our homes are a reflection of who we are - the place where our story begins and our heart lives." We love what we love, they say, and we do our utmost honor, appreciate, celebrate that which is dear.

As we practice love imperfectly, it is also true that a great many of us have very difficult or hurtful associations with our experience of home, family, and holidays. To this fact, Chinese wisdom brings comfort in the sure knowledge we are not alone, "Over no home can the sign be hung, 'There is no trouble here.'"

ADDITIONAL HOME & BEAST THOUGHTS...

"Me and my dog used to hunt rabbits up in Hill Country. Four or five years ago, I was up there visiting my cousin...I said, "Cecil, where are all the rabbits?" He said, "I ain't seen any rabbits in years over here," and I said, "Why?" He said, "Pesticides." I said, "Well if pesticides will kill rabbits, won't they kill people?" I'm here today to represent the rabbits."
- Willie Nelson, testifying before the Texas legislature in 1987
"Support your right to arm bears!"
- Cleveland Amory, American Humorist & Founder of The Fund For Animals
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by [people] from the cruelty of human kind."
- Mahatma Gandhi
"Deer hunting would be fine sport, if only the deer had guns. "
- William S. Gilbert
"I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her."
- Ellen DeGeneres