web
analytics
home facebook tumblr twitter

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

John Hanna

John Hanna – Country Fair

At my workplace, we recently held a “county fair”-themed event, and in looking for decorations, my coworker inadvertently turned me on to the illustration of John Hanna. After seeing the image of the pig on the pink background, I spent several hours one weekend going down the rabbit hole of Country Fair covers. In the 1950s, John Hanna was responsible for the creation of a series of at least 50 amazing covers for the British Country Fair, “a monthly journal of the open air” edited by Macdonald Hastings. An Australian who arrived in London in 1947, Hanna made his living as a commercial artist and cartoonist. He died in 1992.

I find the illustrations so captivating, and full of charm. I love their boldness and the solid color background of the covers, and the variety in the level of detail in the animal depicted. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing for some originals, or even nice reproductions to frame and display in my home and office.

Much appreciation to the blog Asbury & Asbury, from which this biographical information comes. The images are from a variety of online sources, but mainly this one.

Source: Full Table

SHARE

TWEET

Elena Helfrecht

Elena Helfrecht

Elena Helfrecht emailed me about her series The Silent Dialogue recently. When I first looked at the photographs, I was struck by how beautiful, and how affecting, they are. In our correspondence, Helfrecht told me that she feels there is a lack of photographic work dealing with self-harm, and that the issue is mostly overlooked by society. I agree. While I personally find the images almost too much to bear, I deeply appreciate them. Not only do the photographs address self-harm in connection to mental illness, they specifically explore femininity, and use animal/natural symbols to create another layer of meaning.

I found myself dwelling on this work a lot leading up to the publication of this post. Helfrecht mentioned to me that, due to their graphic nature, the images are difficult to responsibly show to a wider public. But it’s important work. It reminds me of a series I made in college, What Waited for Me. The images I made use the female body and self-harm scars (my own) paired with animal parts to create metaphors surrounding suffering and emotional turmoil. It was cathartic for me to make, and I think work like this is, in a way, cathartic to look at.

From the artist’s statement: “The Silent Dialogue” is a series of conceptually documenting self portraits from 2014 to 2017. Born out of affective visions and impulses, each image deals with specific aspects of femininity connected to depression and emotionally unstable personality disorder. The single photographs can be seen as fragments yielding a mirror to reflect, while creating a visual portal to subconsciousness. A physiognomic identity is avoided in order to focus on the skin and its storytelling, elevating personal insights to an abstract and associative shared knowledge. Through the lens the subject merges with the observer, giving an objective access to an idiosyncratic perception. The body is treated as a book to be read – opening an entrance to a world beneath the signs.

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES FOLLOW.

Visit artist's site: elenahelfrecht.com

SHARE

TWEET

Barry Lopez

Currently Reading

Around this time every year, I take stock of this website and think about its roots and its evolution. Last month marks five years since Muybridge’s Horse launched. A lot has changed since then – I left my largely undemanding desk job (that allowed me to turn my blog into a comprehensive website) and my quiet, slow life in Kansas and made the move to Portland, where I worked part-time for two years before gaining full-time status last summer. I stopped having free time that I could devote to researching, emailing with, and writing about artists. And blogs pretty much ceased to be a thing.

Due to all these changes, I’ve moved from updating twice weekly to once per week – if that, at times. I’m always trying to tell myself, “That’s okay!” I remind myself that this website is for me, and anyone who happens to see it as well is a bonus. I’ll keep posting here for as long as I can, however infrequently. Maybe (hopefully), 2018 will be the year the site changes form a bit and becomes less of a blog/feed and more of an archive and artist index. It is so difficult to imagine my life without MH. Thank you for being here.

As always, submissions are OPEN. Email me with your art or the art of folks you know or the art that you love – muybridgeshorse@gmail.com. For now, I thought I’d share some of what I’m reading, as I’m reading more now than I have in a long time. (And just in case you didn’t know, you can keep up with MH on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.)

Apologia, Barry Lopez I have been meaning to read this story for so long. Of course I’ve been aware of Barry Lopez and his writings, especially since moving to the Northwest, but I had yet to find Apologia since it was recommended to me during the portfolio walkthrough at the national SPE conference in San Francisco in 2012. I’m an avid library user and I prefer to borrow books whenever possible, but my library system didn’t have a copy. It took briefly living in a different county this summer and registering for a library card there for me to finally get this book into my hands, and I absolutely loved reading it (and looking at the woodcuts by Robin Eschner). So many things I’ve read recently have made my heart hurt with emotion. This book is no exception.

The Dead Bird, Margaret Wise Brown I can’t believe it, but I only found out about this book when reading Ellyn Kail’s post about the Remembering Animals exhibition on Feature Shoot. This one my library did have… right downstairs from my office. The copy I read is illustrated by Christian Robinson, of Last Stop on Market Street fame (and of Gaston fame, to me). I’d love to track down older versions to see the illustrations. The ones by Remy Charlip look pretty wonderful.

Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem & Mourning Photography This is another book I have been after for a long time. Many months ago, I put in a purchase suggestion at, you guessed it, my library. I was thrilled when they bought it! And it came to me as a hold. I’ll admit that I’ve had to return it and put it on hold a couple of times since then, as I really wanted to spend some time with it. The past few days I’ve flipped through it several times – and it is incredible. I can’t wait to read the essays that accompany the amazing images.

Comic Epitaphs from the Very Best Old Graveyards Can I mention the library one more time? If you haven’t realized by now, I work at a public library, in the administration division. One of my roles is to post on social media and keep up with other libraries’ profiles. A library we follow mentioned that they received this book as a donation, and I immediately added it to my Amazon Wish List of books. Then it occurred to me to see if my own library has a copy, and we do! This was super fun and lovely to read. It reminded me of waiting in line for The Haunted Mansion at Disney World/Disneyland – reading the funny gravestones leading up to the ride is almost my favorite part.

Of One and The Other, Jayanti Seiler Lastly, I am truly looking forward to digging into Jayanti Seiler’s beautiful photo book, which arrived in the mail last weekend. I supported this book through GoFundMe; Jayanti is seeking funding to self-publish a limited edition of her high-quality fine art book consisting of text and over 50 images from her project. An additional set of books will be printed within a couple of months. Check out the project and give your support now as these books are only available through March.

Other things I’ve been reading:
Pigeons: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual I bought my first house (!) earlier this year, and my dreams of keeping pigeons may finally be on the near horizon. I love learning everything about them. If you have tips or insider knowledge, get in touch!
When a Pet Dies, Fred Rogers The world did not deserve the gift that was Mister Rogers. I adore him, and reading this sweet book for kids after seeing the Remembering Animals exhibition was poignant.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, Sherman Alexie I love the chapter “Drive, She Said,” about how Alexie’s mother would stop for roadkill, collecting a porcupine and taking it home to harvest its quills for war-dance regalia – “and the dozens of times she gave extraordinary meaning to ordinary porcupines and their quills.”

SHARE

TWEET

Eirik Johnson

Eirik Johnson

I really enjoyed Eirik Johnson’s talk, “Sharing Experience – or How I Learned to Love Collaboration” at the SPE NW regional conference in the fall. The talk was super interesting, and I loved the piece Give Em Enough Rope, a site-specific collaboration with artist Julia Bradshaw that Johnson showed and shared about. But it wasn’t so much Johnson’s stories of collaboration that prompted me to dive into his work and website – it was the gorgeous, thoughtful photographs he had made depicting nature and the people who live with it, in a variety of forms. In his work, Johnson has focused on commercial Matsutake mushroom hunters in the forests of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, seasonal hunting cabins built by the native Iñupiat inhabitants of Barrow, Alaska, and the borderlands where human and environmental forces meet. Each project contains photographs that feel vast and grand, rich with depth and color. I hope to feature two other bodies of work, Animal Holes and We Were Here, someday soon.

From the artist’s statement: When I was young, my family would hunt for mushrooms in the forests of the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Some days we would spend afternoons along the shallows of a river watching salmon fight their way to spawning grounds upstream. These were the icons of the region: forest and salmon, pillars of Northwest identity. These photographs address the complicated relationship between the region’s landscape, the industries that rely upon natural [resources], and the communities they support. “Sawdust Mountain” is a melancholy love letter of sorts, a personal reflection on the region’s past, its hardscrabble identity and the turbulent future it must navigate.

Purchase the critically acclaimed monograph Sawdust Mountain here.

Visit artist's site: eirikjohnson.com

SHARE

TWEET

Jo-Anne McArthur

Jo-Anne McArthur + We Animals

I cannot recall how or when I first found out about Jo-Anne McArthur’s animal-focused photojournalism, but I do remember my interest in the work she does being reinvigorated when a friend shared on Facebook the Washington Post article These haunting animal photos aim to make you reconsider a visit to the zoo. It features a fascinating and wonderfully thoughtful Q&A about McArthur’s new book, Captive. Through the photographs in Captive, McArthur aims to turn the conversation about animals in captivity toward the individual creatures who suffer in environments like zoos and aquariums, bored and without autonomy. The images are so affecting, haunting, and heartbreaking.

Jo-Anne McArthur has been documenting the complex relationship between humans and animals around the globe to create the long-term project We Animals, which spans 20 years and over 50 countries. Recently, McArthur launched the We Animals Archive, a resource for the animal movement, journalists, and educators. The archive is a collection of thousands of images and videos of animals in the human environment – those animals we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, and companionship – that are available for free to individuals, organizations, and media outlets around the world working to help animals. The We Animals Archive is the searchable repository for McArthur’s important ongoing work. I’m so happy to know about this incredible resource.

From the artist’s statement: I do this work because I don’t accept the cruelty we inflict on innocents. Because I’ve seen the useless suffering, and the dying. Because how we use and abuse animals is wrong. Because what we do to animals is an inexcusable and terrible abuse of power. Because this abuse needs to change immediately. Because it’s an emergency for billions of animals every day. Because animals value their lives, just as we do. I do this work so that we can see, and feel responsible (because we are all responsible for this), and change.”

McArthur is also the co-founder of the Unbound Project, which documents the women on the front lines of animal advocacy. This woman is legitimately my hero.

Visit artist's site: joannemcarthur.com

SHARE

TWEET

Emma Kisiel

Remembering Animals: Rituals, Artifacts & Narratives in Contemporary Art

I am so excited to share that this Saturday, February 10 is the opening of Remembering Animals: Rituals, Artifacts & Narratives in Contemporary Art at CSUN Art Galleries in Northridge, CA. The exhibition examines the ways in which contemporary artists contemplate and investigate aspects of animal death, from the very personal loss of a companion animal to the “invisible” animal deaths we are constantly surrounded by, including factory farmed and road-killed animals. Included in the show is a range of work by artists Steve Baker, Curtis Bartone, Joe Bautista, Linda Brant, Kathy High, Hyewon Keum, Sarah Perry, Julia Schlosser, Craig Stecyk, and myself. Visit the exhibition’s website, rememberinganimals.art to learn more.

In the exhibition catalog’s preface, curator Julia Schlosser writes: In this exhibition, we ask viewers to experience potentially difficult images of animals who have died and artworks made from their bodies. “Remembering Animals” hopes to create an intimate space where we can consider these artworks. Rather than turn away, we invite you to “bear witness” for a moment, and create an empathetic conduit with a non-human animal.

Animal death, like death in any form, is a challenging subject to encounter and embrace. Personally, many of us who have lived closely with pet or companion animals mourn their passing deeply. On a global level, non-human animal deaths exemplify many of the ways that we, as human animals, fall short in our efforts to manage our ecosystems and their inhabitants. From overwhelmingly large issues like factory farming, animal experimentation, and species extinction to the closer-to-home deaths of pets and road-killed animals, we’re all faced with difficult choices regarding our relationships with non-human animals every day. Jon Christensen points out that we live in “a world in which human agency is at once vast and ineffectual.” The nexus of our individual and collective decisions affects animals and the quality of their lives on the planet, whether we want them to or not. This exhibition examines the ways that artwork can and does speak not just about the animals themselves, but also about these larger issues.

In addition to the opening reception Saturday, February 10, 4-6 pm, Julia Schlosser will give a gallery talk on Monday, February 12, at 10 am, and Curtis Bartone will give an artist talk on Thursday, February 22, at 11 a.m. The exhibition is on view through March 17.

In conjunction with the exhibition is Julia Schlosser and Joe Bautista’s anilum: A Digital Candle-lighting Memorial Experience. With this web-based art piece, anyone can become a part of an online community celebrating the lives and mourning the loss of the animals that are important to us. As of this writing, there are 60 beautiful, touching contributions to the site (and one of my own, Candy.)

I am so looking forward to attending the exhibition opening this weekend and seeing the show, the gorgeous catalog created by Julia Schlosser, and anilum in person. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, go see this exhibition that’s sure to be incredible (and come say hi to me on Saturday!). I hope to share photos from the exhibition later this month.

SHARE

TWEET

John James Audubon

John James Audubon

I’ve been posting content related to animals/nature and art here for almost nine years, and I’ve somehow never included the work of John James Audubon, truly one of my favorite artists of all time. Last Monday night, I went to a screening of the film Audubon: John James Audubon and the Birds of America at the Hollywood Theatre, put on by the Audubon Society of Portland.

I was surprised to realize how little I knew of Audubon before seeing this film. I didn’t know that Mill Grove, the Audubon family farm where Audubon lived when he first came to the US, is in Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia; or that he and his wife, Lucy, started their family in Henderson, KY, near the Kentucky/Indiana/Illinois border. I knew that Audubon had ties to New Orleans (I had been to the Audubon Insectarium), but I didn’t know how much time he spent there or how strong the connection was (in New Orleans is the Audubon Nature Institute, which consists of the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Audubon Park, and more).

I had known the Audubon quote, “I wish I had eight pairs of hands, and another body to shoot the specimens” (it used to be the description on the Audubon blog I kept once upon a time) and had a love/hate relationship with it, but I appreciated that the film really emphasized the fact that while Audubon did kill the animals he depicted, he also spent a lot of time observing them in life. In fact, he couldn’t have made such accurate representations of the birds in movement if he didn’t know very well how they behaved in their natural habitat.

Last year there was a post about Birds of America, lauded as the world’s most expensive book, on Don’t Take Pictures. If you want to learn more about the production of this book, consisting of 435 hand-colored plates and depicting over 1,000 species of birds in life-size, that post is a great place to start.

All these images come from the University of Pittsburgh University Library System Digital Collections. The University of Pittsburgh owns one of the complete sets of Audubon’s Birds of America. Only 120 complete sets are known to exist. I tried to mostly include pieces that were featured in the film, but some of my favorites not mentioned snuck in there. I was happy that the documentary talked about my favorite Audubon piece, the Eskimo Curlew, the only dead bird (just dead, not being killed/eaten) that Audubon ever represented.

SHARE

TWEET

Tara Champion

Tara Champion

At the SPE NW regional conference in October, I got to see the talk “Modern Documentary Practices: A case study of working with Yup’ik Eskimos on the Yukon Delta, Alaska” by environmental photojournalist Tara Champion. Champion presented some excellent photographs from other projects she has worked on – all exploring how climate change affects cultures and ecosystems – but it was her series about Yup’iik (Yup’ik) Eskimos, the largest group of Alaskan natives still living on their traditional lands, that I found so interesting and beautiful. Of the Yup’iik, Champion writes, “Their civilization has weathered epidemics, missionaries, and outside influences but as a subsistence culture their connection to the land remains firm. Elders who remember life before contact with the outside world are aging but their value system, living in balance with nature, is being passed to a new generation. Now they are fighting to retain their cultural identity as the very land they depend on is transformed by climate change.”

From the artist’s statement: I lost feeling in my hands hours ago, the tears forced out of my eyes by the whipping wind have frozen to my cheeks, the snowmobile beneath my body jerks and bumps along with such violence I know I will find bruises tomorrow. I bury my face into the back of Matthew Jr., who skillfully dodges through the willow forests and along the frozen rivers used as roads in winter. Another hour goes by as I wonder why I am here, what am I thinking, this is how I will die… we break out into another clearing, and stop on a large frozen river in the shadow of the only mountains for hundreds of miles. I stumble off the back of the snowmobile and take in the scene. Here, hours from any village are dozens of families laughing, playing, and picnicking while they manaq (ice fish): just a typical Saturday family outing. These are the industrious peoples whose connection to this harsh landscape has been passed down through the generations. I am truly an outsider, but here on the ice for the next ten hours, I am an adopted Yup’iik. I have asked to understand what it is to be Yup’iik and slowly I am shown.

Visit artist's site: tarachampionphotography.com

SHARE

TWEET

Joke Schut

Joke Schut

What I knew about Joke Schut from an email she sent me a few years ago was that she made beautiful documentary portraits (of humans). This fall, I was excited to learn that Schut is also interested in making the same thoughtful, deep photographs of dogs. In her two series Dogs of Rotterdam (part of the photo contest De Kracht van Rotterdam in 2016) and Shelter Dogs, Schut explores two different sides of life with dogs. In the former, she captures the love between owners and their dogs, the humans smiling and prideful. In the latter, owner-less dogs are the subject of dreary yet sometimes hopeful images. Both projects have me wanting to go home and snuggle my own dog.

Visit artist's site: jokeschut.nl

SHARE

TWEET

J. Matt

J. Matt

I continue to find myself drawn to two types of photography: documents of the mass of people who visit tourist spots, and explorations of our giant world that highlight the tininess of humans. J. Matt’s series At the Water’s Edge is a bit of both. Living and working principally in California, J. Matt is interested in “the intersections of history, public and private spaces, and the ways in which we have constructed the developed world around us.” His views of coastal locations show a special attention to places where the land meets the water, and have me thinking about what it means to enjoy a place as well as care for it.

From the artist’s statement: The coast is where politics was reputed to stop and a place which polite society once wrote off as an unredeemable and dangerous wilderness. Now one of the most politically contested and environmentally burdened regions on the earth, our coasts face rising sea levels, depleted resources and unsupportable population densities. As coastal resource use and access are debated in the public sphere, ordinary people travel to the coast for recreation in record numbers. How they interact with and understand what they find there is of incredible importance as all of humanity faces difficult questions about stewardship of the earth’s meteorological environment, oceans, and coastal regions.

Visit artist's site: tinyshocks.com

SHARE

TWEET