Dancing With London was the first piece I made about my guide dog, London. I created this sculpture in 2018 after London became ill during my second semester in grad school at Yale. London started to bleed in her mouth and was losing teeth. My partner Kirby and I rushed her to the Animal Medical Center in New York City. The doctors cleaned her teeth but also found tumours growing in her gums, which they told me were probably mouth cancer. We had to wait a week for the biopsy results. I couldn’t talk on the phone with the vet, I was crying so hard. That whole week, I was forced to think about London’s mortality and how short a dog’s life is. She was seven years old, and we had only been working together for about five years at that point. I started to really think about how much London means to me, not just that she is my guide dog, but how I think of her as encompassing so much—my sister, child, mother, protector, and best friend. That whole week I spent in bed with London, drawing her in my sketchbook and remembering our happier times. Early on in our relationship, when we came home from the studio, I would turn music on loud, and we’d dance around the apartment. London would circle around me, jump up and down, and put her paws in my hands. We’d sway back and forth and dance together. That was one of the ways that we bonded. Thankfully, the tumours were benign, but the realisation that London wouldn’t be around forever, it changed me. In my piece, Dancing With London, viewers can imagine dancing with an animal partner. I made it as a monument to London.
Between Dancing With London and True Love Will Find You In The End, 2021, much of my work focused on interpersonal relationships with my partner Kirby and my family, but when the pandemic and the lockdowns happened, I couldn’t go to my studio anymore, and I was at home all the time with London. Our bond became the central focus again, and I started thinking about this interspecies relationship with her. I was also thinking about being stuck in a city and longing to be in nature again. London strengthened my connection to nature and the animal world. I thought about London and imagined us becoming one being. When we are together, we become like one superbeing. She becomes my eyes, and I become her hands and voice. I feel like animals don’t have the same language we do, but we can still learn how to communicate with them by touching them, looking at them, and paying attention.
True Love Will Find You In The End consists of these two hybrid animal-human bodies. It’s about interspecies relationships and tearing down the hierarchy between humans and animals. London’s head is on top of my body, and my head is on top of her body. I made the two figures the same height so that they look at each other on the same level. I also like that they echo the imagery in Egyptian statuary. Many Egyptian gods have animal heads and human bodies. There’s that respect again that we seem to have lost with the animal world. I don’t think of London as my pet. I think of her as my partner