Nine months ago the faces of Najin and Fatu, the last two white northern rhinos on the planet, were featured in a New York Times magazine article. It was a stunning black & white portrait (see below) by photographer Jack Davison, and the image and the story pretty much changed my plans for 2021.
I had some half-serious thoughts about how I might be able to help save the rhinos but it was SUCH a big idea without much “knowing the how” ahead of time so I tried to push it off at least three times but funny, coincidental things just kept happening that led me to start believing that the universe really wanted me to pursue this thing.
So I did. And with anything you haven’t done before, you figure out the how by just digging in. And failing and then learning and then succeeding and then some more failing, until now here we are, 9 months later, on World Rhino Day.
First, it started with some brainstorming and consulting with fabulous client/artist, Katherine Ross, who suggested making a puppet. I reached out to Chicago Puppetry Festival artist KT Shivak who helped me conceive metaphorically and literally an 8 foot giant rhino puppet.
Then I just moved on from there, testing things out in photo sessions inside the studio and on location. With the help of my new amazing Designer and Workflow Manager, Lena, and my incredible, expert retoucher, Monica, we were able to turn the photos with the puppet into wall art.
To see even more images than are shared here, head over to instagram.com/jookiekids or facebook.com/jookiekids .
In addition to creating this unique, one-a-kind artwork with a portion of proceeds to be donated to rhino conservation, we have also designated this year's beneficiary for the 16th annual Halloween Photo Fundraiser to be for the Lincoln Park Zoo's conservation program for eastern black rhinos, another rhino that is also critically endangered, although not functionally extinct like Najin and Fatu are.
We'll send another email when we have the online sign-ups ready, but we might not know until closer to Halloween if it will be held outside again or back in the studio on the white background as we did pre-pandemic.