current exhibition

Press Release Archive



PRESS RELEASE - Animal Intelligence


Gallery Project
215 South Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104



Gallery Project presents Animal Intelligence, a visual and sonic exploration which brings together artists and internationally known field researchers who study the mindful behavior of non-human mammals and other species. The stars of the show include wild chimpanzees, baboons, spotted hyenas, pink river dolphins, grey wolves, red foxes, leaf cutter ants, bald eagles, crows, emperor penguins, octopi, and others creatures.

Exhibitors include Vincent Musi, who photographed National Geographic’s recent cover story, Inside Animal Minds. Field researchers include University of Michigan’s John Mitani (chimpanzee cooperative hunting), Jacinta Beehner (baboon communication), Elizabeth Tibbetts (wasp facial recognition), Michigan State University’s Kay Holekamp (spotted hyena cooperative behavior) and Michigan Tech’s John Vucetich (gray world and moose predator prey relationships). Other artists include Joseph Atkinson, Rocco DePietro, Diane Farris, Erik Johnson, Lois Lovejoy, Rick Pas, Mike Sivak, Lori Taylor, Joe Trumpey, Richard Yandura. Animal Intelligence is curated by Gloria Pritschet and Rocco DePietro

The exhibition opens Wednesday, September 17, and runs through Sunday, October 26. The Opening Reception is Friday, September 19, from 6-9.

Recent advances in behavioral science research provide compelling evidence of remarkable intelligence in a wide range of animal species. Lab monkeys at Duke University use their minds to move a robotic arm. Researchers at The University of Michigan observe chimpanzees make and use tools and engage in complex communication with members of their group. David Attenborough has captured on film the nest building prowess of bower birds as they arranged food, flowers, and sticks to attract mates. Studies of the insect world also reveal complex behavior and organization. Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, who has studied numerous ant species in tropical rainforests of South America, concludes that ants not only distribute seeds throughout the forest, but also co-evolve with certain tree species for mutual benefit.


As a culture, we have considerable difficulty accepting animal intelligence. We embrace the cartoon movie Happy Feet far more readily than the documentary March of the Penguins. We find it easier to laugh at the regal Emperor penguins sliding on ice, than to face that we are observing a highly advanced avian civilization with unyielding commitment to care for offspring even under the most hostile environmental conditions.


One reason humans have difficulty with the concept of animal intelligence may relate to the challenge of translating sound, gesture, and meaning between such vastly different contexts and species choices. But perhaps the major reason that so many humans refuse to accept other species as equal companions is the ubiquitous belief in the primacy of humans. This belief allows us to keep them as pets and laborers, kill them for sport, and consume them for food.


This exhibit challenges some of our cultural assumptions about animal species. It offers the view that animals are intelligent beings with thought and feelings, language, social organization, and communication. It suggests that they have co-evolved with their environments and exist in cooperative relationships with them. It suggests that animals do not exist below or for humans, but for their own ends. Participants in this exhibit, through their artwork and research, attempt to comprehend and represent the lives of animals, which have many common elements with our own.


Gallery Project is a fine art collaborative. Its mission is to provide a venue for contemporary art that is culturally aware, individualistic, courageous, and thought provoking. Gallery Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is located at 215 South Fourth Avenue in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Spring and Summer gallery hours are: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 9:00, and Sunday, noon to 4:00. The gallery is closed on Mondays. For more information, call 734-997-7012 or e-mail us at HYPERLINK "" Visit our website at