Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 15” x 24” x 2”
With head drooped low, mother panda leads her wide-eyed cub past remnants of Chinese culture and religion. Once prevalent in the northern mountains and sub-tropical forests of Asia, due to deforestation and poaching the Giant Panda has been backed into a corner, with only 1% of its historic range remaining in disparate central Asian reserves. Deemed endangered in 1990, increased protection through these nature reserves and breeding programs have assisted the panda population (and leveraged millions in tourist dollars) [i].
The panda has endeared itself in popular culture, from the iconic logo of the World Wildlife Federation, to “Po” in Kung Fu Panda. However, it remains a challenge to effectively reintroduce pandas into the wild where less than 2,000 survive, with a projected population decline of 60% in the next 70 years due to climate change [ii]. China has become the world’s number one emitter of carbon dioxide, and sadly its wildlife are rapidly decreasing.
Pandas are primarily vegetarian, eating up to 80 pounds of bamboo per day, as depicted in this painting. Chinese lanterns were first used in Buddhist ritual, but have become ubiquitous in Asian culture, symbolizing wishes for prosperity… a metaphor for the country’s religious development. In the background, a faint statue can be seen. The reclining Buddha shows departure into Nirvana, non-existence. Somewhat apropos, the shrine crumbles and fades into oblivion. Hopefully the beloved pandas will not follow.
[i] National Geographic
[ii] Global Wildlife Conservation