Art By Asher Jay
National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Creative Conservationist, Asher Jay is saving the world’s threatened wildlife—with creativity. Her cause-driven art, sculpture, design installations, films, and advocacy advertising campaigns bring attention to everything from oil spills and dolphin slaughters to shrinking lion populations. “The unique power of art is that it can transcend differences, connect with people on a visceral level, and compel action,” she says.
Much of her best-known work spotlights the illegal ivory trade. In 2013 the grassroots group, March for Elephants, asked Jay to visualize the blood ivory story on a huge animated billboard in New York’s Times Square. Viewed by 1.5 million people, the internationally crowd-funded initiative aimed to provoke public pressure for revising laws that permit ivory to be imported, traded, and sold. “Conservation can no longer afford to be marginalized,” she asserts. “Today, we need everyone’s involvement, not just core conservationists.
She participated in the Faberge Big Egg Hunt in New York, where her oval oeuvre went on to raise money for anti-poaching efforts in Amboseli. Her upcoming projects will tackle biodiversity loss during the Anthropocene and expose threats to the world's most traded and endangered mega fauna.
Jay’s upcoming projects will tackle overfishing in the Mediterranean and expose threats to Africa’s remaining lions. Tackling issue after issue, Jay’s projects have become global sensations. Yet her ultimate goal is to motivate the one person she believes holds the real power to determine nature’s fate. You.
Science, words, and stats are important, they are the building blocks of conservation, and they help us understand and relate to the world around us. However, visual imagery is the story, which allows for inter and intra-generational information transference. Visual imagery is the oldest form of communication; it’s democratic and universal. It has both advanced our collective interests and instilled us with fear and distrust. Like anything else, it is but a tool and how we use it brands it with the kind of power it wields on its viewers. Ultimately everybody connects to a well told story, and a comprehensible, articulate picture offers a story in a glimpse. A truly remarkable image can contain multiple narratives within its composition, which can make it unbelievably influential. When people ask me what I do, I always say I create visual PR for the earth and all its inhabitants. To second Louie Psihoyos’ position, visual masterpieces – as stills, animations, or motion pictures – are weapons of mass construction; they can invoke change and seed a movement.