By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries

PULLMAN, Wash. – Kyla Lakin’s dogs and cats stare out of her paintings with trust, alertness and hope, much as they did in life. The Washington State University student knew them all as temporary residents of the Humane Society of the Palouse (HSOP) in Moscow, Idaho, before they became the stars of WSU Animal Health Library’s next “Art in the Library” exhibit.

“I love working with rescues, especially at the HSOP,” said Lakin, a fine arts senior who graduates this spring. “The pieces for the Animal Health Library exhibit are all of dogs and cats that have found new homes through local shelters and humane societies.”

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Lakin

Starting next week, Lakin’s work will be on display through mid-May in the twice-yearly exhibit. A free, public reception is planned 4:30-6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, at the library in Wegner Hall 170.

Art in the Library features animal-themed works, typically from artists with a connection to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

For the love of dogs

Lakin has volunteered with the HSOP for the past three years. She also volunteers with Cooper’s Legacy Foundation (CLF), a local agency that assists families needing help with medical expenses for their pets.

Among Lakin’s favorite pieces from the HSOP is Jep, a beautiful dog with soulful eyes painted in blue and white acrylic on a red-orange background. Jep’s claim to fame is his bark – “one of the loudest I’ve heard,” said the artist – courtesy of the smattering of beagle blood in his pedigree.

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Cooper

“He was a character,” said Lakin, who works as CUB Gallery programmer for the WSU Student Entertainment Board.

For CLF, Lakin painted a portrait of the group’s namesake, Cooper, a Great Pyrenees who ruptured the ligaments in his knees. Lakin submitted the 4½ x 6-foot painting in Pullman’s Art Walk 2013 as a tribute to the foundation’s first success story.

Cooper’s portrait inspired Lakin to enter a 2014 notecard contest with the Mosby Foundation, a Virginia organization with a mission similar to that of CLF. She created a portrait of the late malamute/husky in golden Palouse wheat fields that not only was chosen for one of six notecards but also purchased by Mosby’s owners.

“That was an exciting experience because I’d never sold a painting outside of Washington before,” Lakin said.

Losing Sawyer

While the Art in the Library exhibit sprang from her volunteer work, Lakin’s final project for her bachelor of fine arts degree is born of the loss of her beloved dog, Sawyer.

The Australian cattle dog/American pit bull mix was the family dog, rescued as a puppy who grew up to be “a sweet, loving and goofy dog, yet was very misunderstood because of his breed,” she said.

In September, the family was forced to put Sawyer down after he was deemed dangerous following an incident in the Lakin house.

After his death, Lakin said she wanted to create work in Sawyer’s honor to bring awareness to breed discrimination and the feelings of injustice the family experienced. The first piece she did hangs in the WSU Dean of Students’ Office in French Administration Building, an acrylic rendition of Sawyer in vibrant red and white.

Other artworks featuring Sawyer and more animal companions can be found at Lakin’s website, https://kylalakinart.wordpress.com/.

 

Contacts:
Kyla Lakin, WSU student, artist and CUB Gallery programmer, 425-577-0546, kyla.lakin@email.wsu.edu
Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries public relations/communication coordinator, 509-335-6744, letizia@wsu.edu