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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.

Cameron Bloom, "Penguin the Magpie"

Cameron Bloom

The Instagram account @penguinthemagpie by Sydney-based photographer Cameron Bloom chronicles the adventures of a bird rescued as a baby by Bloom’s son and raised by the family. Penguin the magpie is free to fly and sleeps outside, but often sneaks back into the Blooms’ home through an open door or window. The pictures of Penguin are artful and charming, stunning and detailed portraits of the bird or heartwarming snapshots of her relationship with her humans. Smart and playful, she is a member of the family and a best friend to Bloom’s children. Penguin’s a gorgeous bird, with long legs and a giant beak. What an incredible subject to have flying around your home, or watching TV, or getting into bed with you all day.

Visit artist's site: bloomphotography.com

Found via: iGNANT

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Louis De Belle, "Failed Dioramas"

Louis De Belle

Louis De Belle’s series Failed Dioramas depicts not quite the inside of a cabinet of curiosities, but the vast amount of its items not yet neatly arranged and presented for public viewing. Like Klaus Pichler’s work, De Belle’s pictures show the behind-the-scenes of a natural history collection—taxidermy in work areas, under sheets, mixed up in the shuffle. De Belle says, “These rarities—as astonishing as the ones in the display—were lying all around, accidentally combined with ordinary objects. It looked like an unprepared exhibition, yet a visually eloquent one. And as such, it deserved to be revealed.”

From the artist’s statement: “Failed Dioramas” is a photographic series which explores the idle interiors of a private space, where animal rarities and other atypical treasures have been stacked over time. It narrates and exposes an unusual atmosphere, which arises out of odd set-ups and bizzarre clusters of (apparently) misplaced collectors’ items.

Visit artist's site: louisdebelle.com

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Jakob Rosenzweig & Jacqueline Bishop, "Oil and Water" from "Unfathomable City"

SPE National Conference, New Orleans

I went about this year’s National SPE Conference a little differently. My companion at every conference in years past wasn’t able to fit it into his schedule this year, and since my husband and I have been talking about taking a road trip to the South for years, he decided to come along and we made a short vacation of it.

I’ve realized there’s a balance in attending conferences like SPE; it’s incredibly demanding to try to go to a talk every time slot, as well as take advantage of every opportunity the conference offers. So I saw more of the city and consequently missed more of the conference events this time, and I managed my guilt about this well, I think :) As always, here are my notes.

 

The first conference event I attended was the Thursday evening guest speaker, non-fiction writer Rebecca Solnit (her books include maps made by artists and cartographers; one by Jakob Rosenzweig and Jacqueline Bishop is this post’s featured image). It was a great kickoff to a heavy but engaging conference, the theme being “Atmospheres: Climate, Equity, and Community in Photography.”

 

Friday, I didn’t make it over to the conference until the afternoon, for Julieanne Kost’s Lightroom demo. After that, I went to Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal’s talk about their project, Devil’s Promenade. In the evening, I caught the Honored Educator Ceremony for the fabulous Mary Virginia Swanson, then settled in for guest speaker Chris Jordan’s amazing presentation, “Atmospheres of the Mind/Heart: Facing the Realities of Our Times.” I was thrilled when Jordan mentioned that he decided that morning to scrap his prepared talk and spend the evening just talking about Midway, a favorite project of mine.

Late into the evening, I walked around the awesome Curator Portfolio Walkthrough (seriously, this one was the best I’d ever been to!) and got to see so much great photography. I’m bummed I somehow didn’t take any pictures, but I snagged a couple from Jaime.

 

First thing Saturday, I went to a talk I loved, a panel discussion on “Finding the Right Graduate Program.” If you’re thinking about MFA programs, I’ll gladly share with you my notes from this talk. Maybe it’s that I’ve been out of undergrad a while, but I really appreciated these tips that felt like, “hey, take it from some folks who know—these are the important questions you need to be asking and getting answered in order to make this huge decision.” Then there was Julieanne Kost’s Photoshop CC talk, which was definitely the incitement I needed to upgrade from  CS5, which I’ve been using since I graduated from college D: And if you haven’t seen Julieanne Kost speak, why not?! She is so funny! I was initially bummed Peter Krogh wasn’t at this conference, but now I think both Adobe presenters are wonderful.

I finally got to see one of my favorite former instructors, Nate Larson, and his collaborator, Marni Shindelman, speak about their work during their talk, “Tributes to the Data Stream.” It was fantastic! Last was Hank Willis Thomas’ “I Am. Amen.” I saw Thomas speak once when I was a student at MICA, but seeing this talk in post-Katrina New Orleans and in light of the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice… it was a compelling presentation to see. I ended the conference Saturday night with the Combined Caucus Exhibition opening reception at the New Orleans Photo Alliance and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. I have a couple pieces in the show, which is up at both locations through April 5 before traveling to the University of Central Florida Art Gallery for an exhibition May 13-28.

 

A few things stood out to me this conference. This year there was a conference app, Guidebook, which I found super helpful. I generally try to avoid using my phone too much at SPE conferences, but this is an alternative to tons of booklets and paper, and it had everything I needed, like maps, bios, and the ability to make my own schedule. Probably the coolest thing was the addition of (surprise!) performances by the Big Nine Social Aid and Pleasure Club and the Mardi Gras Indians: Guardians of the Flame at the end of the big talks. I really can’t get over it. What a great way to keep the energy going, include the local culture, and add to the experience of New Orleans.

There were a lot less people I knew/recognized this time! I wonder why, because I don’t feel like the conference attendance overall was low. I’m not sure if I can commit to it yet, but I don’t know how next year’s conference in Las Vegas can top this one. Awesome job, SPE!

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Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins

As I settled in front of my computer this morning, sleepy after getting home late last night from the SPE National Conference in New Orleans, I opened my browser and saw that Anna Atkins is featured as the Google Doodle today. How cool!

Atkins was an English botanist and photographer born 216 years ago today. Her book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, is considered the first book illustrated with photographic images, and she is often credited as the first woman to create a photograph. Probably everyone has seen Atkins’ cyanotypes. I don’t remember my first experience of them, but I remember the first time I looked at them and really considered their greatness, when I was in an alternative processes class and about to make my own cyanotypes for the first time, looking for inspiration.

The images Atkins created are simple and beautiful, full of surprising detail. They’re a combination of scientific illustration and art, displaying objects found in nature while at the same time visually referring to many of the earth’s other wonders (constellations or a lightning bolt in the night sky, the scarcity of the color blue in nature, etc.). The photograms make me think of light coming through the dark. It’s fantastic that we’re still looking in awe at Atkins’ botanical cyanotypes and recognizing her contribution to science and photography nearly 175 years later.

Source: NYPL Digital Collections

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David Williams, "Men & Cats"

David Williams

I like a lot about these photos. They break the “crazy cat lady” stereotype (and why are old ladies always “grandmas?”). They challenge that weird precept we have from the time we are children that cats are (and are for) girls and dogs are (and are for) boys. I think cats are more difficult to pose, or at least to command for a photograph, yet these cats are still and engaged with the camera, portrayed as sentient, funny, and regal. As in Josh Bryant’s series of people with their canine companions, the animal is a possession of pride, a friend that offers confidence and comfort.

And since I keep thinking about it while looking at the pictures–what is the explanation for the inherent humor in images of cats, or people with cats, or men (with facial hair) with cats? Cat culture of the 21st century is fascinating.

Visit artist's site: davidswilliamsphotography.com

Found via: iGNANT

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Adrain Chesser, "Knfe"

Adrain Chesser

Largely self-taught photographer Adrain Chesser recently received much attention for his moving series, I Have Something to Tell You, in which he documented his loved ones’ reactions as he told them the news of his having tested positive for HIV and been diagnosed with AIDS. Another of his projects, The Return, may not be as affecting, but is tender and emotive; an examination of life in a different way.

From 2006 to 2012 and in collaboration with Native American ritualist Timothy White Eagle, Chesser  traveled with a group of fierce individuals who wish to embody the ideal of living a symbiotic relationship with the Earth, based on the life way of early Native Americans. The subjects of The Return, a loosely banded tribe of people living nomadically throughout the western states of Idaho, Nevada, California, and Oregon, utilize traditional hunter-gatherer skills along with the knowledge of indigenous food crops, to follow an ancient way of life known as “the Hoop.”

Chesser’s portraits and documentary images of his subjects’ way of life are gorgeous and compelling. I am particularly drawn to the photographs depicting how these people work, with their hands, so closely with the manifestations of nature upon which they depend for survival.

The Return was published as a book last spring by Daylight; it is available for sale here.

From a statement by Timothy White Eagle on Chesser’s website: The subjects in “The Return” are predominately not indigenous Native Americans. Most carry European ancestry. And most come in one form or another from the disenfranchised margins of main stream America. Most are poor, some are queer, some are trans-gendered, some are hermits and some are politically radical. All believe that major shifts are needed in the way modern society interacts with the natural world. And all are willing pioneers, stepping off into uncertain terrain searching for something lost generations ago. These new Heroes are on a journey. Like all great heroes, what they desire is to simply return home. For them home is a wild garden; an ideal, a way of life, a return to what once was. The wild garden is a place the human soul knows.  Every person has ancestors who lived in that wild garden, it is a universal thing we share.

Visit artist's site: adrainchesser.com

Found via: Feature Shoot

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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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