Intellectual property of Shadow the Rat - Esther Minic-Rosenthal, original artworks used for non-commercial purposes by HEL MORT®.

No animals were harmed in the making of this art project.

Shadow the Rat

“Nobody near me here, but rats, and they are fine stealthy secret fellows.” 

– Charles Dickens – 

When we think of our evolution as humans, we usually imagine it as something we created entirely on our own. It’s as if a strange ape invented fire one day and everything changed till now in a vast and great society full of gorgeous buildings and significant progress steps. But we never, and I mean never, look around to see who is around us and who made this possible. Our society is not just one human society, one made up of only one animal, but a strange conglomeration of different species that decided to live together and find themselves protected from the rest of nature, the violence of predators, the fury of the elements, and to live a better and more comfortable life all togheter. We usually prefer to imagine that many of our domestic animals were simply chosen by our ancestors for specific jobs, or as living stock and to make them productive for humans, but if you’ve ever had a pet, you know this is unrealistic. If you have a pet you know that our ancestors developed for sure some form of personal language with another creature, and perhaps a small young girl discovered an abandoned wolf puppy and cared for him in the same way that many children now care for small birds that have fallen from their nests and then they become inseparable. We forget that our human nature is built up of more than half motherhood instinct and the other half by a remarkable social talent that keeps us continually connected with others, including animals! We’re not robots, we’re humans, and our sentiments for others make us the winning species on this planet, not cold machinations, since caring for others is the primary goal of making an animal group stronger than others, and if we are what we are, it’s because of our compassion. We know it, it’s difficult to remember it during these tragic events caused by insane industrial politics, by bad governments that are allowing climate change to destroy everything, and we know that we are stubborn and that we all play a role in the indiscriminate pollution and extinction of other species on this planet, but we never look at the other face of the coin. We forget that for every person who destroys everything and tortures animals, there are four or more people who look after the planet and all its creatures like angels. And Esther Minic-Rosenthal is one of these angels. Esther is an American woman who has opted to give rather than take, and she is providing something special to some of the most hated creatures on the planet: rats. We normally think positively of dogs, cats, and bunnies, but we rarely think of something nice for rats. We name them pests, we persecute them, and we treat them as if they were viruses that should be eradicated. Yes, we understand at HEL MORT that it’s critical to keep a city free of rats in order to avoid awful catastrophes like plagues and other higenical problems; we’re not against it, but now we’re talking about rats philosophically. We want to remember that if we take these animals out of their degraded ecosystems and give them a pleasant home, and if we clean them continuously and care for them as we do for dogs, they will transform into one of the brightest and funniest animals to have around. So again, we’d like to demonstrate the other side of the coin, the lighter side, where negativity may be set aside just for one moment. And we remarked that this is a philosophical question because behind the gesture of helping a rat, we may learn from people like Esther about how to care for other living beings and situations that we see similarly to a dirty rat emerging from a filthy sewer. I’m referring to drug addicts, homeless people, immigrants, poor people, and everyone else who lives on the edges of our streets and is regarded as a cancer on our otherwise respectable life. We never sought to provide them a home, care, or food, and no one ever told them, “You’re ok, you’re at home, you’re safe now,” to put an end to these human tragedies once and for all. It is not necessarily a Ghandi or a Martin Luther King who can transform the world, but someone like Esther who show others how to see things differently. Esther gave these rats a home and a purpose, and today these small insignificant animals are the web’s star; they’re cute, hilarious, and most importantly, they know how to paint! This is a great example of how to solve problems; we don’t need walls or barricades, anti-homeless spikes, or police beating people; we need more people like Esther, and we need to teach kids to be like her, to teach in schools how to care for the littlest and insignificant things on earth, because if we give these things a purpose and a qualitative life, they stop feeling insignificant and stop doing bad things for ever. If people, like all animals in this world, feel excluded and threatened, they react in the simplest way possible, with aggressivity against others or themselves, they hide from the lights to live in the shadows because they consider themselves unwelcome, and they try to do whatever is possible to disappear, such as drugs and alcohol, to stop remembering to be alive in such a sad world. So, if we follow Esther’s example, things can really change, like in this unusual and charming story about her and her rats, who are now the best miniature artists we’ve ever met.

Esther Minic-Rosenthal and the “Shadow The Rat” crew are most likely the best artists we’ve encountered in 2022 for one simple reason: Despite the fact that this project is made up of animals, it is the most human of all since it contains something that no one else has: love.

Come to Life, Come to Art ®