Joy Keown: The Magic of Africa
"I have always been inspired by the beauty and wonders of nature. I took my first watercolor class in 1986, and continue to enjoy the freshness, versatility, and spontaneity of watercolor. I earned BS and MS degrees in biology from Emporia State University, in Kansas, and taught high school biology for fourteen years. Working as a park ranger-naturalist for many summers, the beauty of Yellowstone inspired me to return to painting.
My love for the natural world has led me to make conservation the focus of my work. "The statement that the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem is the Serengeti of North America gave me the desire to go there. My husband and I visited the Serengeti in 2009, where we saw the wildebeest migration, and witnessed a lioness take down a wildebeest. The following day, we saw this lioness draped over the limb of an acacia tree, sleeping off her large meal. Nearby a flock of vultures feasted on the wildebeest remains. This was only one of the many highlights of our two-week photo safari that inspired me to share my experiences in paintings about “The Magic of Africa”.
Many of the wildlife species depicted in my paintings are either threatened or endangered. An imminent threat to wildlife in all parts of the world today is climate change. Tourism and sport hunting industries are dependent on the conservation of African wildlife, as are the Maasai people, many whose livelihood is dependent on these industries. Climate change may cause many problems for wildlife, including availability of drinking water, heat stress, lack of habitat connectivity, loss of food source, etc. Climate change is but one of the factors threatening Africa’s wildlife species. Nelson Mandela said “If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa’s animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever.” These iconic wildlife populations are being decimated by poaching and habitat loss. Artists have a story to tell, and their work may make a connection with the viewer that fosters conservation values." - Joy Keown