What do you call a collection of pink elephants? An inspiration, surely! Khanyisa as a rare albino calf has inspired us throughout her journey, with her paler, pinky skin making her stand out from the other elephants. She has reminded us of the beauty in being different and the herd themselves have shown us what true acceptance is. We were inspired similarly by the art of dear HERD supporter, Laura Curtin-Ross after she entered our Trunkfuls of Art Competition last year with a pink elephant entry that made us fall in love with Khanyisa all over again. We wanted to share her work with you and continue to show the message of acceptance for those that are different to us. Pink elephants are truly something special.
Laura says, “I am a native Californian and I have been painting wildlife for 37 years or so. I love African wildlife, especially Elephants. My whole art changed after I painted my first pink elephant a few years ago. My little pink elephants seem to bring joy and happiness to so many people’s lives, kind of like you guys do when you share your stories of Khanyisa with all of us. I love the way people smile and laugh when they see the pink elephants and I’m overjoyed that you would want to share them too.”
We asked Laura a few more questions below!
What inspired your pink elephant series and what is so special about them for you?
The short answer to this question is that painting pink elephants makes me happy. The first time I showed my pink elephants I experienced the unintended consequence of my work making people laugh and smile. They make people happy. People tell me their own stories they make up about my pink elephants and all the stories have something to do with Love.
With Khanyisa also being a pink albino elephant we love sharing awareness about albinism and looking different and the beauty in this. What are your thoughts on this?
This question comes up when I show my pink elephants and two things come to mind. First, no matter what we look like our family loves us and accepts us as we are, (sometimes our family is found and not our blood). They don’t see us as different, we are just family. And second, to me, we are all born a little pink inside and as we grow up we turn gray and spend a lot of time trying to get back to being a little pink inside. Having a little pink or in your case, albino elephant around just makes it easier to keep a smile handy.
We love that you give back using your artwork. Can you explain how you do this through your sales?
I have supported Cancer & Breast cancer groups through donations of my paintings, prints and cash for many years even before the first pink elephant. I like that the pink elephant fits with the Breast cancer theme of Pink”. I became more involved with these groups when I was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer one month before getting married in 2019. I still donated prints to the auctions but definitely stepped up the cash donations.
The way I think about donations to elephants is, I think it is wrong to make money from selling elephant art (or any wildlife art), without donating back. My husband Bob and I usually keep only our costs to produce art and donate the rest. We are very fortunate and our art business is a good way to give and feel good at the same time.
What is it about elephants that attracted you to featuring them in your art? How do they inspire you?
Elephants are magnificent creatures. I think they should rule the world. Ha. I love that they have a matriarchal society and they love their families. The first time my husband took me to Tanzania in 2019 and I saw the elephants for myself I couldn’t stop crying. The sheer size of an elephant in the wild was amazing and the little babies playing and fighting kept me laughing for hours. My husband is a wildlife photographer and artist and has made 24 trips to Africa. In December we will be visiting Kenya. My paintings usually feature elephants from his portfolio and he can tell me where he was and what was happening at the time he took the photo.
What messages do you hope to share through your art?
I’ve learned and deeply believe that Love is the Answer. I like being able to spread joy and love through my work. Knowing that there are people out there that look at my paintings every morning and start their day with a smile from me is truly awesome.