The girls at Mr Bones and Co kiss their rescue Kona during a Flower Power photoshoot.

FLOWER POWER
Pit Bulls of The Revolution

America euthanizes upward of 1,000,000 pit bulls every year. It's a quiet massacre. Pit bulls make people uncomfortable. The country is faced with a major pit bull crisis. Around the world, pit bulls are equally victims of prejudices that associate them with ultra-violence and make them disposable dogs. Through my series Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution, I decided to photograph them with flower crowns, to infuse a softer energy into their imagery. I wish for this series to challenge the way we look at pit bulls, and ultimately the way we treat them. All the models from the series are shelter pit bulls who were waiting for adoption at the time of the photograph. Many of them still are. I have photographed about 150 dogs since the project started in the summer 2014 (check this link to view the complete series and who is still waiting for a home).

The series is inspired by Baroque and Rococo's aesthetics, using the traditional codes of portraiture. The flowers symbolizes the ephemeral quality of life, reminding us that these creatures are fragile and precious.

Pit bulls are like any other breed of dogs: they need proper care, training and socialization. Unfortunately, because of their bad image, they have the false reputation of being more dangerous than other dogs, hence attracting irresponsible primary owners who are looking for a "scary dog". Pit bulls' downfall is to be exactly the way we created them: strong and loyal. With this series, I wonder if art is a tool powerful enough it can change pit bulls' fate. Under the hashtag #PitBullFlowerPower, the series has become a movement.


SUPPORT THE FLOWER POWER PROJECT!

The project started with New York shelters but I hope to export it to other states and I am currently investigating this possibility and looking for sponsors/partners. Contact me if interested.

There are many ways to help the Pit Bull Flower Power campaign!

  • Educate yourself about Pit Bulls. They are not the flesh-eating monsters you think. They are smart, loyal, and have lots love to give.
     
  • Join the campaign by posting a photo of your pet on social media (all breeds and species welcome!) with the #PitBullFlowerPower. Take a stand against the blind euthanasia of 1,000,000 pit bulls every year!
     
  • Purchase a 2016 Flower Power calendar!
     
  • Sponsor a crown! Send $20 per crown via PayPal to contact@strikingpaws.com - in the message field, indicate the name of the sponsor and the Instagram account or Facebook account associated with it, so I can tag you on social media.
     
  • Prints are available for purchase and make great gifts! Check out my fine-art website / store for more info and links: http://www.sophiegamand.com/store/. There are small, unlimited prints as well as large fine-art limited editions available.

THE SHELTERS AND RESCUE GROUPS

Here is the list of the shelters and rescue groups who are taking part in the Flower Power project. I will be adding more as the project grows:
Sean Casey Animal Rescue (NY) - Sunset Park: 551 39th St, Brooklyn NY 11232 - Phone: 347.599.1500
Second Chance Rescue (NY)
Animal Haven (NY)
The Sato Project (NY)
Hempstead Town Animal Shelter (LI)
Mutley Mutts Pet Rescue (NY)
Mr Bones & Co (NY)
Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center (LI, NY)
 


KEY PROPOSITIONS THAT FUEL THE FLOWER POWER PROJECT

In order to solve the Pit Bull Crisis, I believe we need to address the following points:

  •  We need to educate ourselves and stop being afraid of pit bulls, so that more of them get adopted. I was prejudiced too, before I started working on this project. You too can approach pit bulls with an open mind: go volunteer at your local shelter and educate yourself about these dogs!

  • We need to stop portraying pit bulls like bad-ass, aggressive dogs, so that they stop attracting bad owners who just want a "scary-looking dog". Bad owners are the ones responsible for the bad rep pit bulls get. They are the ones that don't neuter their dogs, chain them, abuse them, etc. They are the one who dump their dogs in the street or at the shelter.

  • We need to put an end to backyard breeding. Spay and Neuter is the solution! We would need to sterilize 90% of the current American pit bull population, in order to be able to become a no-kill nation.

  • We need to encourage people to turn to adoption when they are looking for a dog. Shelter dogs are great dogs who are being vetted, trained, assessed by professionals. They make great life companions. They deserve a second chance. They have empowering life stories, a past, a personality. They are the most resilient and inspiring beings you'll meet. The rule is simple: IF YOU WANT A DOG, DON'T SHOP. ADOPT!

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