Reflection: Interspecies Communication
Final Thoughts
By Tessa Tapscott (06/08/13 21:22:08)
Related animal: Human

When I told people I was taking a class called Interspecies Relations I was met with blank stares and confused looks. “Wait, that’s an art class?” was a common response. Many of my non-art and non-animal related acquaintances brushed off my explanations, relegating it into the realm of “artsy, tree-hugging” that went beyond their point of contemplation. However, for me, this class was one of the most interesting, eye opening and thought provoking classes I have had the chance to take in my time at UCSB. I thought that I began the class with a relatively open mind about many interspecies related subjects, but I still learned so much from each class lecture, movie and reading. As an avid animal lover and advocate I found myself looking forward to each class as a chance to not only express and broaden my own views, but to hear those of my peers and educators.
Ever since I graduated junior high I have rarely had the chance to go on a field trip, but this class offered so many enjoyable ones. The chance to not only go to the Channel Islands, but to stay there, even if just for a night, was something I could not pass up. It was truly an amazing experience to wake up in nature, but also live on an island that was so sparsely populated and allowed to grow unencumbered. That kind of open space if so rare to find these days, I hope that the Channel Islands can remain that way.
One of the things that I found most interesting about the class was that many of the non-art majors also seemed to gain so much from the class, while simultaneously, I am so glad that we were able to hear the views of a diverse array of students after being locked into semi-pretentious art related discussions with only other art majors. The final show proved how much people learned and grew over the quarter and the dedication each student felt to expressing their views with the help of their non-human collaborators. While our show seemed slightly disorganized in the preparations, I think the end result was certainly something to be proud of and I think many of the visitors were surprised and pleased to interact with the work that the class provided.
It is with a heavy heart that I must leave UCSB, but I am so thankful I was offered the opportunity to take a class that seemed not only tailor-made for me, but also opened up my options as an artist, a human and collaborator. I hope to do more work with and about animals in the future in the hopes of figuring out how to be less speciest or to even figure out what that means in terms of making art with animals.

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