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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visiting Artist: Amy Stein

Investigating the relationship that exists between humans and the natural world, the series “Domesticated” provides a glimpse of the tension that keeps these opposing forces within close proximity. Amy Stein has managed to capture the hesitations that are met when people are confronted with the boundaries they have created. Before attending her lecture, I was almost positive that she had visited our university before because her images felt very familiar. “Trasheaters” was the photograph that initially drew me in; the eerie exposure of living room lights from a house that seemed strangely empty, and the sinister arch of the coyote’s back, produced an atmosphere that was quiet but still far from calm. Before she explained her business with taxidermy, it had never crossed my mind that these animals were not real. It was an enlightening experience to hear her speak about the work, and I am glad she corrected my thinking. These animals were once living and breathing creatures. To simply conclude that the idea of a subject is strictly imaginary once its internal machines stop working is to disregard the extensive history that its life has created. The coyotes appear as scavengers and outcasts within this constructed environment, an area that was probably more welcoming and less tainted from the manipulations of man at a previous time. The acquisition of space and territory seems to be a recurring theme in this series, as well as the confusion that seeps through when these boundaries are broken, and I enjoy this constant exchange of ownership. In “Return” she exposes the innocence of a young boy wanting to free his goldfish into the water, but animals born in captivity would certainly not be able to adjust quickly enough to survive in the wild. Ultimately the fishes would die, but similar to the incorporation of taxidermy, it is a beautiful example of how man’s attempt at preservation/good can turn into the opposite.

Amy Stein photography

Interview on the Morning News (read her response about the theme of danger and how humans protect themselves)

her advice to others starting in photography

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