Billboards on I-40 in Duplin and Sampson Counties Inspire Compassion for Pigs
June 27, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact Shannon Johnstone or Jane M. Casteline
When you’re heading home from the beach on I-40 this summer, you might catch a glimpse of a cute pig on a billboard. It’s part of a new campaign dedicated to depicting pigs in a positive way, with compassion and deserving of care.
Picturing Pigs is a product of work by photographers Shannon Johnstone, a tenured professor at Meredith College, and Jane M. Casteline, a research administrator at N.C. State University.
“By showing rescued pigs as individuals who are complex sentient creatures full of love, we hope to offer a pig aesthetic that highlights the beautiful souls who are victims of industrial agriculture,” Johnstone said.
The two Picturing Pigs billboards are located near mile marker 384 in Duplin County and mile marker 353 in Sampson County. They are visible to motorists traveling westbound up I-40. The billboards were placed deliberately in the heart of North Carolina’s hog country, where pigs are a commodity.
According to the N.C. Pork Council, North Carolina is one of the nation’s leading hog producers with more than 2,000 permitted farms. Most of them are in eastern North Carolina. Sampson and Duplin County account for about 40 percent of all the pigs and hogs raised in our state.
The Picturing Pigs project aims to shine a light on gentle-natured pigs, sensitive animals with unique personalities. They enjoy companionship - both human and porcine, warm sunshine, and tasty treats.
“We believe there is value in the public seeing pigs as the individual, sentient beings they actually are instead of hiding them behind cartoonish mischaracterizations of them depicted to sell their own meat or in the erasing of their images completely when they are seen as their commodity for human consumption such as bacon, ham, or pork chops,” Casteline said.
This project was made possible through a 2023 Creativity Grant from the Culture & Animals Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing animal advocacy through art.
Visit picturingpigs.com to learn more.
About the billboards:
The billboard in Duplin County, visible to motorists heading westbound on I-40 near mile marker 384 features Iris and Brianne, bonded sisters who live at Blindspot Animal Sanctuary in Rougemont. They arrived there in July 2022 along with four piglets. Brianne had been hit in the head with a baseball bat and sustained three broken ribs. Brianne has since healed, and she remains exceptionally sweet.
The billboard in Sampson County, visible to motorists heading westbound on I-40 at mile marker 353 features Daisy, an older pig, who went to live at the Sisu Refuge Farm Sanctuary in Albertson in 2019 as part of a cruelty case. She had severe atrophy in one of her hind legs that made walking almost impossible. Daisy has since made a tremendous recovery, although she still battles arthritis. She is now living her best life and enjoys sunbathing and taking short walks in the pasture.
About Shannon Johnstone: Shannon Johnstone’s photographic work deals with themes that reclaim what has been discarded and make visible that which is hidden. Her project, "Landfill Dogs", has been featured nationally and internationally, and was most notably on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (2013), and CNN.com (2014). Her recent project “Stardust and Ashes” was a Critical Mass Finalist (2017), and her newest work, “Roadside Zoo” won an Honorable Mention in the International Photography Awards (2021). Johnstone is a tenured professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. She is also a PhD candidate in Human-Animal Studies at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
About Jane M. Casteline: Jane M. Casteline explores the nuances and unique qualities of the natural, human, and built environment through photography. Her work has been featured in juried and non-juried exhibitions since 2014. Her current project, "Mushrooms in Raleigh" documents the multitude of fungi species located in and around Raleigh, NC, also seeking to capture the beauty that flourishes from the naturally decaying environment. She is currently developing a documentary photography series on the journey of homeless Turkish dogs from abandonment to rescue to adoption. Ms. Casteline is a research administrator at NC State University in Raleigh, NC.
About the Culture & Animals Foundation: The CAF is a 501(c )(3) foundation that believes our future survival depends on developing a worldview that embraces a deep understanding of animals as deserving of our respect and care. We are inspired by the creativity, compassion, and commitment of artists and scholars who strive to awaken this realization in society.