Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Sean Yunker

Mentor: Hailey London


Title: Gimme Shelter


For my senior project I raised awareness for the work Environmental Conservationist and Primatologist Audra Allen does. She teaches chimpanzees that often live in less than desirable situations how to paint, take photographs, and use video cameras. These neglected Chimpanzees have nothing to do in captivity which leads to mental stress and poor mental health. By teaching them how to paint, use cameras, and truly understand how the hand held devices work, she gives them something to do and look forward to in an otherwise pointless existence. Her art therapy helps alleviate the mental stress the Chimpanzees undergo in captivity. My finished product was an art exhibition at the Ross School art gallery that displayed the works and photographs of these chimpanzees.













Over the summer before my senior year, I got a hold of a local Primatologist named Audra Allen. We scheduled a meeting where she explained to me that her work consisted of teaching chimpanzees how to paint and use media devices such as cameras. She attempted to bridge the human and animal worlds together through art as well as give chimpanzees suffering from psychological stress a chance to express themselves through her art therapy sessions. I found her work very interesting, and as I myself am interested in a career with exotic animals I decided I wanted to help her realize her sanctuary in East Hampton as my senior project. Thus my project became a public relations project as I was trying to raise awareness about Audra and her Chimpanzee Artist Foundation. At the same time I would educate people on the importance of art therapy by exhibiting the paintings of her chimpanzees in an exhibition we titled “Gimme Shelter.” In order to both educate people on the Chimpanzee Artist Foundation and have a successful exhibition I needed to write a press release, write an article, and schedule interviews with local newspapers, radio shows, and tv shows. I learned that the right connections can make anything and everything happen and also learned that I am quite comfortable in front of a camera and that interviews are a very easy thing for me to do. My outgoing personality really helped with the whole project. For the future I hope to study animal behavior and conservation of endangered animals in college. I will also be speaking at Guild Hall this summer with Audra as well as possibly being a part of the Durrel Foundation on the Channell Islands.

Works Cited or Works Consulted

Allen, Audra. Personal Interview. Sept.-Jan. 2007-2008.

Angier, Natalie. “The Dance Of Evolution, Or How Art Got Its Start.” The New York Times 27 November 2007: F1.

The Chimpanzee Artist Foundation. The Chimpanzee Artist Foundation. Viewed 17 Nov. 2007. <>.

Fouts, Roger, and Stephen Tukel Mills. Next of Kin. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1998.

McGrew, William. The Cultured Chimpanzee. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Siddle, Sheila, and Doug Cress. In My Family Tree. New York: Grove Press, 2002.

Stanford, Craig. Apes of the Impenetrable Forest. New Jersey: Nancy Roberts, 2008.

Wilford, John Noble. “Almost Human, and Sometimes Smarter.” The New York Times 17 April 2007: F1.

Community Member (Details)

Audra Allen is a Environmental Conservationist that works with chimpanzees that suffer from psychological strain. She helps them by introducing them to art and multi-media. In short she offers these chimpanzees art therapy and at the same time bridges the worlds of chimps and humans through art.