Species of Artistic Beauty
The Wild Life
Ever since she was a toddler Lori Dunn has been fascinated by animals. What started with digging earthworms soon became collecting fireflies in jars and then on to horses and elephants. Being from a military family and hopelessly shy, Lori found herself moving from base to base, town to town and unable to connect in any meaningful long lasting way, except with animals. "My parents saw me doodling intricately and in detail at an early age," says Lori, "and when I was 10 they enrolled me in oil painting classes. Colour theory, value awareness, and composition were important lessons learned through these early classes; but I quickly discovered that painting landscapes in grand brushstrokes was not for me. I was too slow and spent too much time trying to paint the teeniest details." As a teenager she was drawing more and using graphite for more control over detail. Her pieces were even featured in youth art shows and her parents, as well as her teachers, were encouraging her to pursue art as a career. "I enjoyed art but my real passion was for wildlife," she explains, "and the astounding marvels of evolution and biodiversity that I saw around me. I couldn’t get enough…i rejected my parents notion of a "job" involving art. I just wanted to do it when I felt like it, not at the whim of someone else. I knew I had to work with animals in some capacity, but not just domestics, and so after high school I signed up for the zoology program at Guelph University. It sealed the deal for me…the countless species to learn about, their anatomy, their behaviour – I absorbed it all." A few years into university Lori went to visit her father who was stationed in Virginia. While down there for the summer she managed to secure a volunteer keeper’s aid position at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. "They asked me what animals I would like to work with and I said quite firmly that I would be happy to work with any of the animals," Lori remembers. "They put me in the reptile house. Reptile keepers at that time were generally men and also notoriously standoffish and gruff. They put me to work but once they saw my dedication towards the job, took me under their wings… I absolutely loved every minute of it." Lori had become so popular that she was often given opportunities in performing tasks most
left, Natures Imperfections, scratchboard original, 9" x 12" right, Between The Trees, scratchboard original, 5" x 11"