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Anthropocene of the Crime:

A Criminal Investigation of Species Under Threat

Graduate Thesis for Fine Arts – Advanced

by Shannon Fennell

May 2021

4 x 8 foot mixed media display of ink and acrylic paintings of various sizes on wood, canvas board and stretched canvas; pins; string; and printed paper.

Artist’s Statement

My collection of work depicts a wide cross section of species that are being threatened by criminal activities such as over-hunting, habitat destruction, climate change, disease, pollution, poisoning, illegal activities and the evidence all leads back to one suspect.


The species depicted cover all of the classification categories used by The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species: Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Threatened, Endangered, Critically Endangered, and Possibly Extinct.


There are many factors that are threatening, and have already caused, the extinctions of thousands, if not millions of species on this planet. The biggest threat since humans emerged as the dominate species, is human interference in the biosphere. This era of human impact has been labelled the Anthropocene Epoch.


I have researched species that are currently threatened and investigated the causes in each case. The processes I have used in this project are similar to a crime investigation – seeking information on the victims, their movements and habits, locations, interactions with others, known associates and potential enemies. In doing this I realized that a crime investigation board was an ideal way to track the interaction of all of these species with the prime suspect and illustrate the interlocking relationships.


My painted depictions of the species I’ve chosen to illustrate are the “victim photos” and, as done with a real investigation board, links are shown visually, with notes, crimes scene photos and information for the detectives to study.

I hope the viewer will see that what is happening on our planet is a crime being perpetrated by our own species. And that we need to step-up to stop it before it is too late for all of us, not just these threatened species.

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