An interesting public art project is unfolding in Canton, Ohio. Through art, artist BZTAT (pronounced “bee-zee-tat”), the principal of BZTAT Studios in Canton is going to create a mural that will start people thinking and talking about the mistreatment of animals and the links between it and child abuse and domestic violence.
It’s no secret that many spouse- and child-beaters have histories of violence toward animals. Many threaten their spouses’ pets with harm or violently murder their pets as a means of control and emotional abuse. Yet, too many people dismiss animal cruelty as a minor crime, scarcely worthy of court costs. The animal abuser who gets off with a slap on the wrist is highly likely to escalate the violence to humans — indeed, probably already has.
The purpose of the “Okey’s Promise” project (named for a small rescued cat) is to create positive artworks that will be prominently viewed in the community to generate interest and awareness. They are created to remind us of the riches we have in helping those who are most vulnerable in society.
BZTAT says, “I want to make my local community, as well as the broader global community with whom I connect, realize that we must treat our animals well, in addition to addressing the needs of children and others in need in the community. Yet merely sharing the facts doesn’t seem to get the point across.
“Creating artwork that is highly visible to the community has a greater chance of connecting the dots for people. It is easy to ignore a fact sheet, but hard to dismiss a powerful public artwork that reaches out to you each day as you drive by it.
“My hope is that this mural will become a point of departure for a local dialog about the combined issues of animal maltreatment, child abuse and domestic violence. I also hope that the local efforts can lead to a dialog in the broader community through a website and blog dedicated to the issue: http://okeyspromise.com/ and other avenues. I plan to create other murals in other cities in the future to continue the effort nationwide.”
Artwork courtesy of BZTAT Studios.