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MH is a blog and archive featuring artists who are interested in the ways in which humans interact with and experience animals and nature.

DeAnn Desilets, "Audubon Guide Presents"

DeAnn Desilets

In her series Audubon Guide Presents and Wild Life, DeAnn Desilets creates still life landscapes and “food-scapes” using miniature animal figurines, playing on the dioramas of the natural history museums she visited in her youth. Beyond preserving animals as taxidermy behind glass, Desilets is interested in immortalizing the idea of animals in photographs in a quirky, whimsical manner all her own. The images in Audubon Guide Presents comment on the possibility of a world packed with animal life in a way we can only imagine today, due to human influence. In Wild Life, Desilets’s pictures use humor and subtlety to discuss sustainability and our dependency on our natural surroundings. Like work by Andrea Buzzichelli and Catherine Larré, the images’ scale adds a playful but also off-putting effect.

From the artist’s statement: As an artist, I have always been drawn to simple ideas with strong contexts. I look to express the human and environmental condition around us by making a connection through a shared experience. Inspiration comes in keeping my imagination and eyes open to what is in my surroundings. Childhood memories of running free in the woods and creating my own worlds have been staples through my entire body of work. Pulling from made up stories, known fairy tales and museum dioramas my work aims to create emotional connections that hearken back to the days of my youth. At that point in our lives the world is a pile of blank books where every emotion, reaction, experience is new and exciting. By revisiting these feelings in the world around us we can stop and pause to reflect on what may have been lost, and gain new perspective about where we are in our lives, our world, and our environment.

Visit artist's site: deann.fm

Found via: Lenscratch

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Alex Matzke, "2013"

Alex Matzke

I find Alex Matzke’s photographs visually striking and emotive. Her images of the Dawson County, Nebraska landscape illustrate the desolation that exists alongside the fascinating, unique beauty of the Midwest. Matzke is originally from Nebraska, currently lives in Virginia, where she is pursuing her photography studies, and spent some time in New Mexico for her undergraduate degree. Moving from my native Colorado to Baltimore for college and now living in Kansas, I see a bit of my own experience living in three very different regions reflected in Matzke’s photography, even in just her study of her home state. There is such a palpable essence to place, to the outdoors, even if they aren’t “outdoorsy.” The Midwest is a peculiar place; even when it looks and seems like there’s nothing at all happening, there’s probably something strange and noteworthy happening everywhere you go around here. I love that this is subtly captured in Matzke’s photos.

Visit artist's site: alexmatzke.com

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Anna Pugh, "The Bliss of Grass"

Anna Pugh

Anna Pugh is an artist whose work I frequently stumble upon online and about whom I periodically and unsuccessfully attempt to find out more. Born in 1938 and currently living in Sussex, England, Pugh is considered one of England’s leading folk artists. It is stated on the artist’s website that she has created over 200 works in twenty years. Her charming paintings of the countryside, dogs, and plants span a number of styles. I love the whimsical, colorful portrayals of farm flora and fauna, but the more realistic works with sharp, clean lines are particularly irresistible to me.

Visit artist's site: annapugh.com

Source: Tumblr

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Corey Arnold, "Fight or Flight"

Corey Arnold

I precisely remember the moment I found out about Corey Arnold’s photography. I was looking through the BLINK Magazine I had work featured in, and when I got to Arnold’s interview and images at the end, I was stunned. I think I immediately went to my computer to find his website and see more. I made two posts about his work then (before I started writing much or at all in posts) and when I heard about his recent solo exhibition at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art in Portland, Oregon, I was reminded of his incredible photography.

Visiting Arnold’s site now, every image in each gallery is sublime; so crisp, perfectly lit, smartly composed, and with rich colors. Arnold has a remarkable eye and seems to always capture the perfect moment. Of his breathtaking landscapes; dramatic frames of crashing waves taken while working on fishing boats; beautiful, funny portraits of humans and animals, the word “epic” comes to mind. Again, I really couldn’t choose a favorite series, so below are a few images included in Arnold’s exhibition, Wildlife, and various others that I couldn’t stop looking at.

Visit artist's site: coreyfishes.com

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Nicolas Wilmouth, "le singe, la girafe et l’ibis rouge"

Nicolas Wilmouth

Sometimes I happen upon work with little or no descriptive statement attached, and I remember how important it is to look at photographs and artwork without knowing any of the artist’s intentions or background information beforehand. A short statement for the first series, translated as The Monkey, the Giraffe, and the Scarlet Ibis, contains the line, “these somewhat unreal images plunge us into a sense of sadness and delight… beauty rubs shoulders with boredom and loneliness.” Particularly in the case of the second series, Panic, I appreciate the allure of knowing only little or nothing of what’s going on.

From an interview on Landscape StoriesI like the ambiguity of the representation. Is it living or dead? Real or not? It’s also a pretext for a portrait, and it’s particularly motivating to be able to create a bridge between a dead animal and me, almost like managing to establish an impossible dialogue. I use the framing and lighting to try to feel the breath of the animal, despite its immobile, dusty state. I like reaching for the resonance and vibration of things.

Visit artist's site: nicolaswilmouth.com

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Tasha Lewis, "Moments of Thaw"

Tasha Lewis

The work of Tasha Lewis stands out from any other photography, fiber, and “taxidermy” art you may have seen before. Lewis patches cyanotype-coated fabric together to construct sculptures of animals arrested during a surge of forward momentum. When exhibited, the work incorporates high-powered magnets to create the illusion that the animals are breaking through the glass cases and domes that encase them. I truly admire Lewis’s practice. There’s virtue in the amount of labor that goes into creating each piece, and in the artist’s shrugging the anatomically correct. There are few naturally blue things found on the earth, and while the cyanotype’s inherent blue tone does refer broadly to the elemental sea and sky, it also makes the animals appear frozen literally as well as figuratively. I enjoy the combination of kitschiness (see plush/knitted taxidermy mounts available for sale today), one of the earliest photography processes, and age-old handwork.

While at the same time incredibly unique, I think Lewis’s pieces reference much of the art that came before them. These pictures have me thinking about some qualities of the work of other artists I’ve featured–the momentum and intensity of Cai Guo-Qiang’s taxidermy art installations; the mass of the creatures, sometimes warranting a piecework effect, depicted in Carrie Witherell’s cyanotypes, and the laborious, hand-stitched aspect of Mister Finch‘s animal creations. Lewis’s work also brings to mind pieces by Mia Mulvey, and of course Maurizio Cattelan.

From the artist’s statement: My current work is focused on re-imagining taxidermy and other methods of preserving life. My interest in preservation stems from my fascination with the re-presentational powers of photography. I am fascinated with how we as viewers relate to a leaf that has been mechanically produced to look and feel very similar to a real leaf. I have been scaling up that idea to make animal bodies, tree limbs, and I hope to eventually create whole environments. I am in dialogue with moments from the nineteenth century: the popularization of the photograph, the creschendo for big game hunting, and a certain nostalgia and interest in cataloging (Cabinet of curiosities, Wunderkammer etc.) Although I tap into these older sources for my work, the actual execution is dependent on today’s technologies.

Visit artist's site: tashalewis.info

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Juuso Westerlund, "Wildlife"

Juuso Westerlund

Juuso Westerlund’s sense of humor is evident in his photographs and the way he presents them, as is his sensitivity to the world’s beauty and imperfections. Westerlund’s images of the peculiar, lackluster venues in which we view animals and experience “nature” are at the same time sad and funny. The scenes pictured, bathed in flat, artificial light, show the embarrassing lack of effort put forth in creating real representations of nature and realistic housing for animals and highlight the grittiness of these arenas.

Other pictures of Westerlund’s are rich and beautiful in a more traditional sense, some of my favorites from a project centered on male friends his age, his two young sons, and his 90-year-old grandfather. The series, In Between, is “an allegory of a man’s longing for childhood and adolescence as he’s nearing middle age. It is about the longing for innocent, care fee and adventurous times. My work tells about growing up and growing old, and about being a father and a man.”

Visit artist's site: juusowesterlund.com

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Barbara Bosworth, "Swan"

Barbara Bosworth

I’m thinking about these pictures with Birdman on the brain. I saw it last weekend, and on the way home from the theater, I made the regrettable decision to read reviews about the film online. Without going into detail about the masses of negative reviews, I’ll say the consensus is that the movie essentially made people think about things they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about or were uncomfortable thinking about. I kept thinking, isn’t that the point of art; to make us question our world and experience things we aren’t often subjected to? To me, art that succeeds in doing those things warrants a positive review.

Like Birdman did for movie-goers who feel compelled to post reviews online, the photographs in Barbara Bosworth’s One Star and a Dark Voyage stir something in me. They give me a chill, make me feel on-edge. And I think it’s fantastic. The pictures are haunting, in the most literal/least cliche way. Maybe it’s the wolf, whose blurred face and tense posture cause me to recall the Antichrist “chaos reigns” fox that’s never left my memory, or the ghostly dogs barking up a tree; they instantly remind me of the remains of Sally Mann’s dog. The bear paws, which look so much like human hands, certainly put knots in my stomach. (I wonder if Cig Harvey has seen the Swan image, made in 1995, and if The Funeral, Goose River is her response. I truly love connections like these in photography.)

In Natural Histories, the pictures are affecting to the same degree. Some keep me staring. With a removed reference to water, the fish looks like it is floating, hovering in a jar of air. The bird is photographed from just the right perspective, in just the right position to insinuate flight. Each image makes me think about time; at a standstill, or passing, quickly or slowly.

Visit artist's site: barbarabosworth.com

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Muybridge's Horse Facebook Page

Two Years of MH + A Facebook Page

Since two’s not so special a number I won’t gush, but the “anniversary” does give me an opportunity to look back, and I’ll say it’s been a good year for this website I enjoy working on so much. The past year, I made 99 posts, featured 87 new artists, and posted 28 submissions. I worked on streamlining the site, making more sense of the categories and tags for the first time since they were created. I became more intentional about how I post with the MH tag on Tumblr. I think Dan and I finally got posts to appear correctly in a feed reader, with a post looking “perfect” just in time for 2015, and we might still do a little work there.

I made 16 posts on Feature Shoot, which certainly widens MH’s audience. I had a feature about MH on PDNPulse, wrote in the Rule Breakers series on Don’t Take Pictures, and juried Feature Shoot’s zoo photography exhibition, all an honor and a joy. I went to two SPE conferences, the national in Baltimore and the Midwest regional in Madison. Within the past couple weeks I’ve been working out the details to attend the 2015 national conference in New Orleans, probably my last SPE conference for a while as I’m anticipating moving to Portland late this summer and unfortunately missing the Midwest region’s Louisville conference in the fall (Hi, Northwest region SPE-er’s!).

Last month, I set up a Facebook page for MH, something I had been thinking about doing for a while. I hope it will not only serve as a connection point with artists but also make the website easier to catch updates from. Click the badge below or find the Muybridge’s Horse Facebook page here. Add me as a friend, if you like :) And thanks for reading!

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Amanda Tinker, "Small Animal"

Amanda Tinker

Amanda Tinker’s series in progress, Small Animal, is an examination of one particular way we experience nature: intimately and up-close, yet obscured and with intangibility. The black and white images, made as palladium prints, are composed on the ground glass of an 8×10 view camera. The resulting pictures incite the feeling of looking through a window to a place unknown, or of making shadow puppets against fogged glass. These pictures continue to recall to me Natural Findings by Cheryle St. Onge. Both projects feature a dark tone and the repeated image of a hand reaching for or grasping the simple but marvelous creations of nature.

From the artist’s statement: This new work, still in progress, looks at the natural world as if it were held just for our observation, suspended far from any recognizable landscape. Nature’s small beauties, such as birds, butterflies, flowers, and flecks of dirt, become objects of contemplation. The [ground glass] of the 8×10″ view camera, on which these studies are composed, factors greatly into the work. It is a projection screen for my interest in the early history of photography, particularly as a tool for studying nature. One can imagine an era just before the dawn of photography where views of nature stirred on the glass of a camera obscura. Nature had been transformed through optical devices giving way to a diminutive view; the landscape on a smaller, more intimate scale. This project, situated in the 21st century, reflects a more ambivalent, if not estranged, experience of the natural world.

Visit artist's site: amandatinker.com

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