For Kinahan, her work is how she expresses her personal philosophy and love of animals.
“I have been painting farm animals for about 10 years as a way of raising quiet and beautiful awareness of the fact that these are living, sentient beings that we might want to take another look at the way that we are treating them in this world,” she said. “I never want to be one of those people who are beating their message over the heads of other people, who are throwing buckets of red paint at the women in fur coats. I want to quietly state what’s in my heart and what I really feel passionate about.”
Kinahan said she always donates 10% of what she makes to organizations that are working on the front lines of caring for animals. She said when she last tallied donations she has made, which was a couple of years ago, she has donated somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000.
“That’s the way that I feel like I can help the most is giving my support to people who are really doing the hard work, that heart-wrenching work,” she said. “My mom is in rescue and has been for about 20 years, and I was definitely raised by a family of animal lovers, so it’s always been in my heart, but it’s only been about 10 years since I’ve been using my art as a way to support the causes I believe in.”
Since 1976, Spring Creek Horse Rescue has been saving horses of all breeds from abuse and neglect. According to its website, it is a “100% anti-slaughter rescue that emphasizes the rehabilitation and placement of horses into loving, forever homes.” It also works to educate the public about horses and acts as the La Plata County Hay Bank, providing hay for those unable to feed their horses, according to the website.
“It’s good. It feels like I’m helping,” Kinahan said. “Recently, I was in a conversation with a woman who works in the Foreign Service helping to manage natural resources of developing nations. I asked her what we, as U.S. citizens, can do to help on a global level. She said two things which stuck with me: 1) If you’re going to contribute, doing it on a local level is best, and 2) don’t buy diamonds. So I asked myself: ‘What is one of the local causes here?’”
The show will have about 20 pieces. Kinahan paints with oil, and she said each piece can take anywhere from four days to four months to paint.
“There are some of them that I just chase around, and then there are some of them that just come right out,” she said. “I think a lot of it is how much I’ve thought about the image before painting it. It’s like I’ve painted it in my head so many times that by the time I sit down to actually do it, I know exactly what I’m going to do. Sometimes it goes like that.”
Art is expressing something, and it’s kind of a language of emotion, Kinahan said, adding that it’s important for people to expose themselves to different viewpoints and different images and allowing themselves to have new thoughts that perhaps in their routine lives they wouldn’t have come across on their own. For her, this is important just because “I’m trying to show that there is a beauty and a delicacy and a true intelligence in beings that I think it’s more convenient for us to think there isn’t.”
Kinahan said she spends a lot of time visiting farms and ranches, learning about the animals and spending time with them. They have a sense of humor and they want to play, but they also are subject to depression and loneliness and all of these things, she said.
“I just kind of want to have people stare into the eyes of these animals and tell me that there’s nothing there,” she said. “I’m not really trying to change the way people behave; I just would love to give them another option for how they could think about the agricultural or farm animals.”