Ahem – Fido is ready for his close up!
Man’s best friend has long been a staple in paintings often symbolizing loyalty, wealth, or style. They crop up in some of the earliest artworks and have continued to be a beloved subject through today. Now, a new series by New York-based photographer Winnie Au highlights our four-legged friends in a different manner. ‘Cone of Shame’ is an ongoing project for the artist, which she describes as a personal project given her love for her corgis and basset hound.
Au is most often found photographing humans – she’s worked with a number of fashion designers, large retailers, and organizations – and it shows in ‘Cone of Shame.’ Each photo features a different breed of dog set against a vivid, monochromatic background. The dogs take on an array of personalities as they sport one-of-a-kind collars, most often called a Cone of Shame (hence the project’s name) or an Elizabethan collar, made by prop stylist Marie-Yan Morvan. The collars are a device used to keep dogs from injuring themselves particularly after they have been in surgery. Au’s photos feature the cones in a less traditional manner. Some photos are comical as a dog peers out from the edge of their restrictive collar while others look simply majestic.
The conical structures verge on high-end fashion, often mimicking and complimenting their canine wearer. Morvan took care to ensure the cones were comfortable for the dogs making them light and out of animal-friendly products. In one, a sheep dog has a halo of what looks to be cotton candy, in another a terrier looks dapper in a textured black cone, meanwhile a poodle barely peeks out of its angular collar. According to Au, each photo brings together abstract shapes, tones, and textures.
The whimsical series has a deeper purpose, though. Au hopes to raise money for rescue dogs in New York City who need surgeries and aid. She plans to sell limited edition prints and notecards through a Kickstarter campaign that will directly benefit NYC animal shelter Animal Haven.
When asked by NPR why she decided to start the unusual photography series, Au responded:
‘I’ve always wanted to capture [images of dogs wearing cones] because it is so ridiculous to start with — but I knew I wanted to do a series because … when a dog wears a cone, it’s the saddest feeling. They just don’t look very happy usually. It’s a sad and ridiculous moment when they have to wear that cone. I wanted to create a series to turn that image upside down. The series is a mix of sadness and beauty. My goal was to show off dogs in a beautiful way, but also bring attention to that fact that lots of rescue animals need surgery. I thought this would be a fun way to do that.’