These are not cute pictures of dogs. These are dogs who have been homeless for at least two weeks, and now face euthanasia if they do not find a home. Each week I bring one dog from the animal shelter and photograph him/her at Landfill Park, a former landfill converted into a public park. The backdrop of Landfill Park is used for two reasons. First, the dogs will end up in a landfill if they don’t find a home. They will be euthanized and thrown in the trash. Below the surface at Landfill Park there are more than 25,000 dogs buried there. I think of this park as a burial ground. The second reason is because the animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value; homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope.
Mary Shannon Johnstone received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (’96), and MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology (’01). She has had solo exhibitions in Chicago, Durham, Raleigh, and Rochester. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including three Best of Competition awards in the North Carolina Annual Photographers Exhibition. Her work has appeared in American Photo, Outdoor Photography, Popular Photography, and Peterson's PhotoGraphics. Her work was also selected by Algonquin Books as the cover image for "If You Want Me To Stay", a novel by Michael Parker. In 2008, Johnstone was chosen as one 15 photographers for the highly competitive "Pause, To Begin" photography project. Most recently Johnstone was awarded the 2009 Carter Foundation Scholarship from Maine Media Workshops. She is also one of Photolucida's 2009 Critical Mass Top 50 photographers, which was awarded by vote from over 200 gallery directors and curators nationwide. Currently her work is featured on the 2009 cover of the North Carolina Literary Review and the Winter issue of Visual Overture Magazine. Johnstone is a tenured Associate Professor of Art at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC.