46millionturkeys: An Invitation to Create
a New Thanksgiving Tradition
“Happy Thanksgiving 2002” watercolor with rice paper
The National Turkey Federation estimates Americans ate approximately 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day in 2011. While a significant number of people
think of themselves as animal lovers, there’s a persistent barrier to getting those same people to acknowledge that turkeys are sentient
beings—like their cat, dog, and bird companions—who possess desires and preferences and experience pleasure and suffering. If asked to
distinguish individual turkeys amongst thousands crammed into a shed or a barn, most people would “see” little difference between these birds.
And yet, each bird is a unique individual.
While working at a sanctuary for farm animals, Ms. Miller experienced a Thanksgiving like no other. Staff would prepare and serve the resident turkeys a
feast of greens, cranberries, squash, and pumpkin pie. “It was so delightful for me to watch the honored guests gather round, cluck, and peck at the
offering prepared just for them,” explains Ms. Miller. “It was, without question, one of my favorite and most memorable Thanksgivings since
becoming a vegetarian in 1980.”
Following that experience, the artist created a personal and meaningful tradition to celebrate the holiday. For the past 15 years she has painted turkey
portraits on Thanksgiving.
This year, during the week of Thanksgiving (November 25-30, 2013), the Harlow Gallery, located at 160 Water Street in Hallowell, Maine, will host
46millionturkeys. In addition to submissions from other individuals, the exhibit will feature Ms. Miller’s annual turkey portraits. The public is
invited to meet the artist at a reception celebration on Saturday, November 30th from 5-8 pm. The Harlow Gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday noon to 6 pm or
by chance or appointment.
“The Girls” watercolor and ink by Cheryl L Miller
Cheryl Miller was born and raised in Staten Island, NY. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts from Hunter College in NYC and moved to Maine in 1988. She
credits reading Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer, as the beginning of everything that followed. She currently resides in Augusta, Maine.