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Birds in Portrait: Photographs by Joel Conison

bald_eagle2_working-copy-216x300Artist’s Statement: The photographs included in this exhibit capture the natural beauty of birds in an unnatural environment.

All of these birds are taxidermic specimens.

On one hand, the taxidermic specimens allow me to work with, approach, and handle them in a way that living creatures would not tolerate.

On the other hand, the process of taxidermy, by definition, has removed the very essence of their fleeting existence. Without a doubt they have become objects, and yet there remains something elusive.

I realize that as a photographer I can’t treat them as I would wild birds in nature. Indeed I didn’t want to treat them as birds at all but rather in terms of a statement on the human interaction with nature – first in terms of my own interaction with these object/animals and second as a more encompassing commentary.

I chose to create portraits of these creatures not as a type of anthropomorphism but in keeping with Aristotle’s statement that, “the aim of art is to present not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance; for this, not the external manner and detail, constitutes true reality.”

I have photographed them in portrait form, similar to how I would have photographed a human subject. Their gaze meets the viewer’s directly and without hesitancy; they are as nature has created and also as mankind has altered.

As humans expand their presence on earth it remains incumbent on us that we preserve a place for animals. It is our responsibility as ‘care taker’ to provide such a space and place.

– Joel Conison

About the Artist: Joel Conison was a commercial photographer for over twenty years before returning to Pratt Institute in order to earn an MFA. After teaching for five years at the college level, he has continued to work on his own photography as well as to teach at Spruill Center of the Arts and give private instruction in Photoshop. His work has been exhibited at the local, regional and national level.

The Hudgens Center for the Arts
6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Bldg 300
Duluth, GA 30097

Tuesday through Saturday
10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Last admission ticket sold 30 minutes prior to closing

Adult: $5
Child/Student/Senior: $3
Children under 2 FREE