Portfolio > 4-H Youth (2013-15)

These images are part of the collection, “Of One and The Other”, where I examine complex human-animal relationships. Since 2013 I have been making photographs of young people in 4-H. The 4-H Club is focused on family tradition, instilling responsibility and preparing youth for the realities of adulthood. Children are trained to raise livestock animals from birth, which they do with meticulous care and pride, having full knowledge that they will give them up for slaughter in a couple of years. There is an undeniable mixture of strength, emotion and eagerness, leading up to Livestock competitions at the County Fair. The children are dedicated to the care of their animals, as they anticipate placing well and taking home a ribbon and cash a prize.

There is a collision of sadness, vulnerability, pride and accomplishment found in these unique relationships between young people and their animals. The images center on the conflict of emotions that they face, as they must find the courage to send their animals to slaughter. Children mature quickly because they form very close bonds with their animals despite knowing what is to come. I seek to capture the emotional complexity and dedication as their attention turns inward on auction night and the reality of parting with the animals they raised from birth weighs heavily on them. I aim to capture that mixture of strength and emotion. Having formed such a deep connection with an animal coupled with the strength to repeat the process again each year is remarkable.