For ten years, photographer Shannon Johnstone has been visualising the tragedy of animal neglect and overpopulation, most notably in her series Landfill Dogs and Breeding Ignorance. Her latest series, Stardust and Ashes, strikes a brutally poignant note which came from an equally eloquent place. After her father’s death, she made a solargram using his ashes.
Moved by the act of mourning, Johnstone got in touch with Carteret Animal Shelter in North Carolina and took on some of the cremated remains of animals, with which she creates mesmerising cyanotypes reminiscent of the universe. The resulting prints are Prussian blue with flecks of white, like plumes of cosmic dust. Johnstone takes on an Anubis-like role, leading deceased dogs into immortality, provoking a sense of grief and loss in the onlooker. These images allow the deceased pets to finally be mourned and receive a reverence they never had whilst alive. They uncover our connection, not just as companions, but as living creatures who are all a part of the same cycle, capable of compassion and mercy.
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019