Review: Jillian Ludwig's 'Fam Farm'


4.5 stars


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.