Of One and The Other (2013-16)
Image from Of One and The Other (2014). 2016-2017 the work was featured in The New York Times LENS "Humans and Animals: A Complicated Bond", LIFE FORCE Magazine, LENSCRATCH, BIRD IN FLIGHT Magazine "Golden Cage", Muybridge's Horse, and Edge of Humanity Magazine "From Lifesaving To Exploitation, The Human Factor in the Animal's Life".
The collection of photographs are part of a photographic essay that began in 2013 titled, “Of One and The Other”, which seeks to inspire consideration of the complexity and depth found in the relationships between animals and humans from all points along a spectrum that spans the chasm from lifesaving to exploitation. The images are a critique of the paradoxical framework and disparate representations of our relationships with non-humans; wherein there is the desire to coexist harmoniously, yet control, consume and rule. These have yet to be reconciled, although in the last decade or more there is a growing sensibility and consciousness in Western culture towards animals as equal sentient beings. This work situates within this larger context and I seek to advocate for this essential regard for animals. The photographs as seen together, are a call to revere the natural world while living in a modern one in which the two realms often conflict. The well-being of animals has been a lifelong passion of mine, which initially compelled me to apply my craft to explore the myriad of disparate ideations versus the actual treatment of animals I observed across innumerable venues in which humans and animals interact. As participant, observer and storyteller, I spent time among people from a very broad scope of human-animal engagements ranging from falconers that capture and release birds of prey, 4-H youth that auction their livestock for profit and slaughter, owners of exotic big cats, animal sanctuaries that care for abused domestic animals, traveling safaris, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centers, taxidermists, and encounters for profit. I immerse myself in the commonalities and conflicts of interest between neighboring groups to call attention to the ill-defined slippery notion of borders and boundaries and how they are either honored or crossed.
The humans and the animals that I depict co-exist and connect across and within these margins. The capturers become the captured as they are bound by their commitments to preserve and protect. Conflict is found in efforts to remain at a distance, pictured as not only humane but also essential to survival and conservation in the world of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Others blatantly bridge that gap and sell encounters with big cats under the same guise though with little or no care for the welfare of the animals. Whereas, altruistic individuals at animal shelters both wild and domestic dedicate their lives to preserving the health of debilitated, abused and neglected animals. There is a collision of vulnerability, pride and accomplishment found in the unique relationships youth in the 4-H Program have with their animals. I seek to capture the emotional complexity and dedication as their attention turns inward on Livestock Auction Night at County Fairs and the reality of sending their animals raised from birth to slaughter weighs heavily on them. These disparities are woven into the fabric of the photographs, calling attention to undefined slippery boundaries of displaced intentions and notions of adoration, escape, capture, release, and conservation.The relationships I depict are meant to be complex and not clearly definable to call upon a greater concern. “Of One and The Other”, is an acknowledgment of the myriad contradictions, and the unresolved and intricate borderlands shared by contemporary life and the undomesticated world of nature. I portray, that irrespective of our own biases, within every interaction and encounter, there deserves to be further understanding of our obligations and impact.