Openings – Performances – Presentations

Beasts of Burden is a thought-provoking pop-up exhibit curated by artist Jane O’Hara.  Fifteen artists, including O’Hara, Jo-Anne McArthur, Moby, Jennifer Wynne Reeves, Karen Fiorito, Nancy Diessner, Wendy Klemperer, Julia Oldham, Gedas Paskauskas, Denise Lindquist, Raul Gonzalez III, Adonna Khare, Ariel Bordeaux, Tony Bevilacqua, and Moira McLaughlin, explore our complex relationship with animals.

Opening Reception and Book Signing:  Friday 10/20 Hours: 5:00–8:00 pm
Gallery Showings: Saturday 10/21 and Sunday 10/22 Hours:  11:00am–6:00 pm
O’Hara Projects 208 East 73rd off Third Ave., TUF Gallery, NYC

Animals have played an important yet complex role in our lives. Humans have hunted and bred animals for food, feared them as predators, revered them as spiritual beings, enlisted them as laborers, sacrificed them in scientific experiments, and prized them as pampered pets. With their innate curiosity and unselfconscious joy of life, they can be enlisted to fill the void in our lives where human interaction and connection to nature is inhibited. Their beauty and otherness has inspired multiple reactions—pure appreciation, the desire to own them, mold them, steal their horns and hides, and train them to entertain us. BEASTSOFBURDEN joins this group of artists working in diverse media to examine our complicated connections to these creatures and the many ways they are entwined in our lives and psyches.” —Jane O’Hara, curator

Curator and artist Jane O’Hara is a Culture & Animals Foundation grant recipient and a Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award  honoree.  Beasts of Burden was first shown in Boston in 2012 and has since been the subject of presentations, articles, and solo works. An artist book of the exhibit is being launched at this O’Hara Projects event.

Compassion Arts & Culture and Animals Festival 2017
Leonard Nimoy Theatre at Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at W. 95th St, NYC

Painting “Encounter” by artist Cyrus Mejia

Compassion Arts and Culture & Animals Foundation are delighted to announce the first Compassion Arts & Culture and Animals Festival —a weekend of song, artistry, discussion, film, and performances on our multifaceted relationships with the Earth and the animals with which we share it.

By bringing together artists and scholars, the Compassion Arts & Culture and Animals Festival offers a unique exploration of the many, and often paradoxical, ways in which we humans attempt to understand and respond to the world around us. This combination of research and creativity is the hallmark of the Culture & Animals Foundation, which provides grants for artists and scholars who wish to advance our understanding of, and compassion for, animals through intellectual and artistic expression. We are pleased to say that all proceeds from the Saturday evening and Sunday shows will go to Culture & Animals Foundation.  Here are the times and performers of our festival programs:

Saturday, October 21st   World Premiere 1:45–3:30 pm

And the Hummingbird Says…
10/21 at 1:45pm

“And the Hummingbird Says…” A song cycle performance about the late environmentalist Wangari Maathai by composer Mihoko Suzuki, words by Martin Rowe, sound by Timothy Cramer. With Elaine Lachica, Hai-Ting Chinn, Michael Steinberger, and Steven Moore.

This world premiere, scored for four voices, consists of five songs that combine the Buddhist elements (earth, water, air, fire, and void) with reflections on and dramatizations of the life and ideas of Wangari Maathai, the late Kenyan environmentalist, social justice activist, and Nobel Peace Laureate. Each song explores a facet of an experience represented by Maathai: as an African whose culture is belittled by colonialism; as a lover of trees who confronts deforestation; as an advocate for women and freedom who faces violence and misogyny; as a campaigner for the environment who struggles in the face of disbelief and ridicule; and as a single individual battling climate change and the inevitability of death.  (75 minutes)

Saturday, October 21st   Evening Programs 7:30–10:45 pm

Introduction by Dale Jamieson
10/21 at 7:30pm


Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, and Director of Animal Studies Initiative, at New York University, reflects on the legacy of Tom Regan, who this festival is in honor of.

Tom Regan (1938–2017) was one of the most important voices in the modern animal advocacy movement. A professor of philosophy and co-founder of the Culture & Animals Foundation, Tom was the author of the groundbreaking The Case for Animal Rights (1983), Empty Cages (2004), and other books on animals, philosophy, and social justice. For many years, Tom and his wife Nancy organized the International Compassionate Living Festival in Raleigh, NC, which brought together artists, scholars, and activists, to learn and be inspired by those opening the doors to our knowledge of other-than-human animals. Tom and Nancy’s work through Culture & Animals Foundation has provided many grants over the years to help projects in the arts and academia for compassion for animals. The Compassion Arts & Culture and Animals Festival is a tribute to Tom Regan’s legacy, and a continuation of this work.

Reflections on Beasts of Burden by Jane O’Hara
with Joy Askew & Gretchen Primack
10/21 at 8:00pm

Artist and curator Jane O’Hara  is joined by performing singer-songwriter and recording artist  Joy Askew along with poet/author Gretchen Primack  in a multi-arts performance narrative, to reflect on the works of fifteen artists exhibited in O’Hara’s Beasts of Burden curated show and artist book of the same name. Our complex, tragic, and indispensable relationship with other animals is explored in this searching and transformative presentation. (60 Minutes)

Captive with Jo-Anne McArthur & Martin Rowe
10/21 at 9:15pm

Canadian photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur talks with publisher Martin Rowe about her astonishing and compelling photographs of animals in the human environment, and about Captive her most recent book of animals in zoos and aquaria, being launched in NYC this evening. This presentation will include discussion and book signing. (90 minutes)



Sunday, October 22nd   Afternoon Programs 1:45–5:30 pm

The Music of Michael Harren
10/22 at 1:45pm

Composer, performer, and activist Michael Harren performs his music on piano and electronics with his all-vegan string quartet in a program that moves us to look more deeply at our relationships with other animals. The performance features the premiere of new works inspired by his recent tour, which included sanctuaries on the West Coast, and shares selections from his multi-media theatre piece The Animal Show, written during his residency at Tamerlaine Farm Animal Sanctuary in Montague, New Jersey. Michael’s distinctive artistry leads the audience on a journey that opens the heart and mind to thinking differently about all kinds of animals and ourselves. (60 minutes)

Kedi Documentary Film (dir. by Ceyda Torun 2017)
with Discussion by Ayten Alkan and  Yanoula Athanassakis
10/22 at 3:00pm

The 2017 award-winning documentary film Kedi follows seven stories out of many thousands of cats who have roamed the metropolis of Istanbul freely for centuries, wandering in and out of people’s lives, impacting them in poignant and profound ways that only an animal who lives between the worlds of the wild and the tamed can.

After a showing of Kedi, there will be a discussion with Turkish academic Ayten Alkan about her extensive research on the history and politics of the street animals of Istanbul. She will be talking with Yanoula Athanassakis, cofounder of the NYU Environmental Humanities Series, about the challenges of academic freedom in an authoritarian government,  the “problem” and politics of “stray” dogs and cats in Turkey, and the literal and metaphorical privatizing of public (green) space.

 (Film 1 hr. 20 min, Discussion 40 minutes)

Sunday, October 22nd   Evening Programs 7:30–10:45 pm

A Radio Play by John Yunker
10/22 at 7:30pm


Richard and Lisa have retired early to a small town. Lisa, a new vegan, offers their guest studio to her new animal-activist friend Meg and decides to celebrate Thanksgiving sans turkey. Richard, in the hopes of forcing Lisa to capitulate, invites their exterminator Charley to Thanksgiving dinner. The resulting tensions soon push relationships over the edge. This live recording for the popular podcast Our Hen House features John Frusciante as Richard, Michael Harren as Charley, Eric Milano as the narrator, Jasmin Singer as Meg, and Mariann Sullivan as Lisa.


The Journeys of Abu’l Abbas and Al-Hindi
by Radhika Subramaniam
10/22 at 8:45pm

Radhika Subramaniam reconstructs the story of Abu’l Abbas, the Asian elephant given to Emperor Charles the Great by Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the ninth century, and the mahout who probably accompanied him. Following, occasionally quite literally, in the footsteps of Abu’l Abbas, Radhika traces the profound complexities of the relationship between human and animal, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, and the experiences of migration that this elephant’s journey reveals as well as the challenge of telling stories across species. (45 minutes)


Food Chain Re-Imagined
New Works from Compassion Arts
10/22 at 9:30pm

Compassion Arts closes the festival events with a multi-arts performance collage featuring songs from founder/director Ellie Sarty, with video, special guests, and a presentation of readings by educator and poet-activist Donald Vincent, founder of Mr. Hip Presents and That’s So Vegan. A music and spoken-word narrative of transformation, kinship, and mercy reflects on our treatment of animals, the earth, and each other, through the artistry of works by Mr. Hip, juxtaposed with a vegan chorus of singers and readers performing excerpts of Food Chain Re-Imagined, a Compassion Arts theatre work in development.