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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Original ‘Lobo Louie’ inspires activism

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By Adria Malcolm / New Mexico Daily Lobo

A taxidermied Mexican Gray Wolf “Lobo Louie” sits in the Cochiti Room in the SUB. The mascot was chosen by the University in 1920.

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Environmental activist Demis Foster said young people can bring out-of-style causes back into the public eye with fresh ideas.

Foster began her career as an activist in 1987 as a volunteer with the Wolf Recovery Foundation while still in college at Boise State University. After graduation, she moved to Seattle and continued her volunteer work with the Pacific Crest Biodiversity Project.

She spoke in front of an art studio class in the Cochiti room in the SUB Tuesday. Students gathered around a preserved Mexican Gray Wolf, which she said was the original “Lobo Louie.”

The exhibit was put together by artist and graduate student Daniel Richmond and features memorabilia and photos of “Lobo Louie” on display.

An English major, Foster always thought she would travel the world and teach, but once she experienced the rainforest, everything changed.

“I realized when I graduated from college and moved to the rainforest, how significant and amazing the rainforest was,” she said. “When I saw that it was being destroyed so quickly and needlessly, all of a sudden I knew immediately I needed to do something, and the next thing I knew I was volunteering.”

She has been an environmental activist for the better part of the last 20 years. Foster is most well-known for her work with the Ancient Forest Roadshow, a campaign to bring attention to clearcutting of ancient forests by driving a 450-year-old Douglas-fir tree around to 38 states.

Richmond said as the UNM Lobos, a great way for UNM students to show Lobo pride is to get behind the Mexican Gray Wolf restoration effort.

He asked Foster to speak to his art studio class about the role artists can play in social and environmental movements.

“I thought it was a good venue to show them the (exhibit), which uses a visual symbol of the University that we’re all a part of and then also mix it with someone who has done outreach work with art and with community and symbols,” he said.

UNM student Stevie Lowrey said she is able to see what she can do as an artist to contribute to larger social movements and is excited to start weaving different subject matters, including animals, into her artwork.

“The concept of saving the wolf and saving beings that are higher up in our food chain put into perspective our being and what we can do to make things work,” she said.