I wonder if the relationship we as humans share with animals and nature is genuine, authentic, real enough. For four years beginning in 2013, I visited natural history museums, zoos, and other places where visitors can experience captive and preserved animals in over half the states across the US while thinking about whether our interactions with animals and nature are sincere and substantial or artificial and contrived.
As humans in a fast-paced, overwhelmingly digital existence, we seek a connection with animals and the natural world in order to feel whole. So many of our interactions feel limited, as we are always at a bit of a distance from our non-human animal counterparts and the physicality of our planet. The visitor's experience of animals and nature at zoos, museums, and other like places is curated, controlled, dulled down or played up. My photographs highlight the divide between humans and "the wild," and the various ways in which the wild is experienced today.
Cockatiels; Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle
Reptile Enclosure; Rolling Hills Zoo, Salina, KS
Dolphins, American Museum of Natural History
Henry's Scrap Metals; Pocatello, ID
Plant; Mount Angel Abbey Museum, Saint Benedict, OR
Bird, Oregon Zoo
Texas Bobcat; Mount Angel Abbey Museum, Saint Benedict, OR
Your Next Hunt; Wood Oil Co, Lawrence, KS
Cutler Hauling; Pocatello, ID
Bear; Sunset Hwy, OR
Meramec Caverns; Sullivan, MO
Bite, Northeast Iowa
Please, Do Not; The Grotto, Portland, OR
Nature's Silent Balance; Idaho Museum of Natural History, Pocatello
Golden Lion Tamarin, Kansas City Zoo
Light, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Doris Butterfly; Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, New Orleans
Zebras; Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh
Victoria Crowned Pigeon; The National Aviary, Pittsburgh
Abnormal Coloration in Birds; University of Kansas Natural History Museum, Lawrence
Crescent Beach Trail; Ecola State Park, OR
Geese; North Coast Coins, Crescent City, CA
I Am Here, I Am Harmless; Oregon Zoo
Come Back and See Us; Wild Animal Safari, Strafford, MO
Empty Quarter (Rub' al Khali), Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
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SPEakOp (SPE Opinion) is a series of think-pieces.