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Art for Animals’ Sake is dedicated to not one, but two very worthy causes. Art exposure for children to gain hands-on experience with the art world, which as it turns out, is directly related to advocacy for the humane treatment of animals. If you’re wondering how, we’ll tell you.

David Walega, founder and Director at Art For Animals’ Sake, (AFAS) is a fine artist and photographer holding a BFA from the Pratt Institute in New York as well as a Masters of Communications in Digital Media from the University of Washington. Walega first came to founding this unique organization in 1998, when he’d heard about a rescue of forty puppies from a hoarding situation.

“I organized a silent auction with a friend to raise money for their rescue. It came about because most of the people I was hanging around with were incredibly talentportfolio_oliviaed artists but didn’t have a lot of money. What they did have was invaluable. Through the auction we successfully raised money and gave the artists a platform to show their work while exposing the issue of puppy mills and hoarding situations. AFAS evolved from that interest in both art and animals.”

Through conducting workshops in Seattle and Los Angeles, AFAS organization helps children gain experience in a variety of artistic mediums and fill the void in art education programs within the public school systems. The proceeds from these workshops go to animal advocacy causes and, as an entirely volunteer organization, AFAS relies on partnering with other organizations to connect with students of all ages.

AFAS

 

According to Walega, the primary focus for AFAS is raising awareness of and educating youth about the emotional lives of animals. Walega explains, “Every single being on the planet wants to live a full and healthy life. We focus mainly on youth, with the goal that if we can build on the natural empathy children have for animals, it will develop a person who is kind both to people and animals. It’s the idea that you can stop the abuse before it happens and give students a creative outlet, resulting in a positive societal change.”

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And Walega has seen plenty of social change, he’s personally responsible for dedicating countless house of his own time caring for animals, providing adequate medical care to injured and malnourished animals and finding them shelter. He has also worked in conjunction with local law enforcement to bring justice to offenders with animal abuse convictions. Walega explains there are many efforts for advocacy we can make as a society, none of which he feels is more influential than through education of our youth. “[In our workshops] we use a critical eye to examine how unique each animal is. If you examine a chicken up close, instead of just black feathers you’ll see deep purple and blues. With art education, we ask that students notice these subtle differences and it starts a conversation. Each animal becomes an individual with specific characteristics, which makes it difficult to see them merely as a ‘product’ for use and consumption.”

When asked what the primary reason behind our society’s willingness to remain uninformed on animal welfare Walega states simply, “It’s a natural defense mechanism to turn away rather than deal with the reality of how animals are treated every single hour of each day. It challenges everything you were raised with and, for many, it’s too much to contemplate how the abuse of animals permeates every aspect of our society.”
Moving forward, the primary goal for AFAS is to continue filling the gap left by dwindling art education budgets. The ability to develop critical thinking through art and creativity is a vital social skill. “If we can have an impact on how youth interacts with other, hopefully we can affect positive change.”

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