For my first assignment in Animals, People and those in between I was instructed to create a portrait of my animal self, or spirit animal. By this I mean, an animal to which I feel a certain kinship or that we share similar traits in both habit, habitat, and personality. I happen to have always loved animals, and have a large knowledge of many species both foreign and domestic, so this was a bit of a daunting task, or so I thought. Frankly, the American Beaver (Castor canadensis) came to me rather quickly and while I would like to think we do not share a lot of physical characteristics, I do think we are quite similar in many ways.
Well for starters I feel that I am a builder at heart and at practice and the beaver is undeniably a prolific builder. The beaver also has a larger than body personality, which is reflected in the effects his/her building has on the world around it. I would like to think that my creations influence those around me in mostly positive ways, similar to the way the beaver can create new bodies of water for new life to grow( a little sappy ). I have always felt at home in the water in a way that makes me dream in swimming, and I love splashing. I also associate myself with the fact the beaver can be prey. What I mean by this is that the beaver is a very alert individual and I have always been alert of my surroundings, relying more on my awareness than on my strength.
I chose to place the beaver in the environment of the Strip Mall construction site by the road for a lot of reasons that relate to how I feel and how I relate to my past. No matter how hard I try, I still feel like I am a transient New Yorker and that my true home is Northern Virginia. Recently I have come to the opinion that "NoVa would be a great place, if you would just get rid of the people", but that is not entirely true. I grew up with constant construction and remodeling in NoVa, whether it was roads or shopping malls, it was always changing, and so I felt it was appropriate to include some sort of construction in a self portrait. But everyone knows that a construction site is not the ideal place for a beaver, and this relates to how I feel about the lack of nature I experience in New York. Yet, I can't help but feel a similarity between the beaver and its damn and the construction site and its shopping mall. Both are considered pests and blights on the landscape but they do a lot to bring life to an area.