Review: Jillian Ludwig's 'Fam Farm' 

4.5 stars

wUG LAKU'S STUDIO & gARAGE; through March 26.

Jillian Ludwig's beautifully rendered illustrations of animals drawn in graphite with additions of gouache, pastel, colored pencil or acrylic paint may seem serene. The animals are sensitively depicted, usually in arrangements of a mother and her young with a meandering pink ribbon interplaying within the composition.

Likenesses are realistic and superficially playful, but more is happening in Ludwig's Fam Farm series. Skin is exposed on the backs of most animals, made visually seductive with soft salmon and pink colors and speckled with dots.

In "Pink Pig," tied bows from the pink ribbon bond three piglets, each with an exposed wound. Ludwig's ribbon suggests the animals are presented to consumers like gifts while also pointing to the creatures' helplessness.

Getting people to think about animal treatment and where their food comes from is part of Ludwig's motive in producing Fam Farm. Her approach is softer than the more political illustrations of internationally known animal activist Sue Coe. Ludwig, who currently resides in Lafayette, Indiana, said this series is, "Me not shouting at other people, but me changing myself."

The images are ironically palatable. Pink balloons hover over the mother in "Rhino" before making us realize that what looks like decorative icing on her back is really a repugnant injury, a sugarcoated message that won't disappear soon.


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