Art with a mission | African Menagerie

A panoramic painting of African wildlife is coming to Canton. “African Menagerie—The Inquisition” will run April 26 through July 15 at the Canton Museum of Art. The touring exhibit created by American artist Brian Jarvi is considered art with a mission, because it is intended to draw attention to wildlife extinction.

A panoramic painting of African wildlife is coming to Canton. “African Menagerie—The Inquisition” will run April 26 through July 15 at the Canton Museum of Art. The touring exhibit created by American artist Brian Jarvi is considered art with a mission, because it is intended to draw attention to wildlife extinction.

The main focal point of the exhibit is seven interlocking paintings in walnut paneling that form a 32-foot wide, 14-foot tall display. The painting depicts a gathering of zebras, a giraffe, a lion, a rhino, birds and other animals in the desert against a backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, all flocking to a man sitting on the ground.

Jarvi, in his introduction to the piece, wrote that the painting shows man has come to dominate the earth, and the world is seeking survival as more species take over the planet. The painting is intended to be allegorical, with biblical references to the Four Horses in the book of Revelation and the lion and the lamb.

“Over the years, the original concept of simply seeking to create art has evolved into something far more meaningful: a message to humanity intended to inspire acts of conservation,” the introduction reads. “Acts that will save, not just the great iconic species of Africa, but wildlife across our fabulously, diverse planet.”

The exhibit is expected to be family friendly. Lynnda Arrasmith, chief curator and registrar for the Canton Museum of Art, said she hopes it spurs conversations between adults and children about the environment and animals. She likened the main work to the 1830s “Peaceable Kingdom” oil painting by Edward Hicks.

“It’s like walking into a wonderland,” she said. “At that height, you’ve almost got to feel like you’re walking into it, I would think.”

In addition to the panorama, the exhibit also includes more than 100 pieces done in oil, pencil and charcoal.

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