Artists for Ahimsa Award


Cyrus Mejia

Cyrus Mejia

Artist & Animal Advocate

Co-Founder of Best Friends Animal Society

Co-Founder Raven’s Heart Gallery

CAF 2020 is honored to give this year’s Artists for Ahimsa Award to artist, animal advocate, sanctuary founder and gallery curator Cyrus Mejia, for his dedication to creating a more compassionate world, and devotion to animals in multiple ways:

  • as a visual artist creating soulful and heart-inspiring works about animals
  • as co-founder of Best Friends, working to provide direct care and advocacy for rescued animals, as well as providing resources for people helping animals too
  • as co-founder of Raven’s Heart Gallery, creating an exhibit platform for artists using their work for cultivating kindness and respect for animals, while also shining a light on speciesism, ignorance, and cruelty

“Art can focus the attention and direct the emotions in ways no other medium can achieve.
This is not art for art’s sake. This is art for life’s sake.”
— Cyrus Mejia

View slides of Cyrus Mejia’s artwork

Cyrus Mejia with Painting

Cyrus Mejia

Raven Hearts Gallery

Raven's Heart Gallery

Best Friends Sanctuary

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

About the Award

Each year, Compassion Arts Festival presents the annual Artists for Ahimsa Award, to highlight the work of a person in the arts using their creativity to advocate for animals and as an instrument for deepening understanding and compassion for all.

Our Artists for Ahimsa Award started two years ago in 2018 when we were greatly inspired by the artistry of multiple Emmy-award winning filmmaker Allison Argo, for her deeply moving documentary The Last Pig and her lifelong career devoted to advocating for animals through numerous films as a writer, director and filmmaker.

We continued the Ahimsa Award last year with our 2019 honoree, award-winning photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, for her unflinching and powerful advocacy for animals through compelling and thought-provoking photojournalism, and the creation of her animal advocacy platforms We Animals Media and the Unbound Project.

Ahimsa Artist honorees are “awarded” a painting created specifically for them, about their work for animals, contributed by artist Jane O’Hara. Each recipient is featured in the Compassion Arts Festival the year in which they are honored, where attention is given to their artistry and projects they've created to help animals and raise awareness.

Click here to view the honorees’ award paintings created by Jane O’Hara.

Past Honorees

Jo-Anne McArthur 2019

Jo-anne McArthur with goat

Jo-Anne McArthur at Farm Sanctuary

Photographer & Animal Advocate

Advocacy & Photojournalism Library

Documentary Project (Women for Animals)

Allison Argo 2018

Jo-anne McArthur with goat

Director Allison Argo with friend, Cliff

Filmmaker & Animal Advocate

Submissions 2021

If there is an artist who you would like to suggest for our 2021 Artists for Ahimsa Award, please send us your ideas through our CONTACT page and a link to the artist's website if possible. Suggestions in all areas of creativity are considered. Honorees are selected based on their work ( see below) and on what areas of focus will be explored in the programs at the festival that year. The only requirements for submissions for consideration are:

  • that the artist is dedicated to nonviolent compassionate living
  • that the artist's work is connected to helping animals directly in some way, or in advancing vegan peace
  • that the artist's work is a resource actively being used for raising awareness and cultivating compassion about animals in others, and/or is providing a network or platform for other creative advocates dedicated to peace and respect for all