July 10, 2007
Photo exhibit spotlights humankind's troubled relationship with animals
By Cynthia Haven
Man's troubled and often cruel relationship with his fellow animals is showcased in an exhibition of photographs July 10 through Aug. 19 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery. A gallery reception for Animals, scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. July 12, is open to the public.
The exhibition, a commentary on the fragile nature of life, includes 20 large-scale black-and-white photographs by May Mantell, who earned her MFA in photography from Stanford in 1995. Some of the photographs are a brooding eulogy for the animals; others are a more clinical description of their fate.
Mantell calls the photos "poems about mortality." In a recent interview with the Morning News, a Brooklyn-based online magazine, she said, "They are my impressions and responses to the living and dying I see all around in the everyday world.
I feel sympathy for them and think of them as innocents.
"Perhaps we are not as far removed from the animals as we would like to think. For instance, many animals express fear and grief in ways that are familiar to most people.
Often, in photographing the animals, I have thought of man's cruelty and indifference, not only toward the other creatures but also toward other human beings," she said.
Many show animals killed in sportfor example, at the Coyote Derby, a hunting tournament where the hunter who brings in the heaviest coyote wins.
When Mantell first began photographing the Coyote Derby, the Iraq War had begun only days earlier: "There was an eerie and persistent connection in what was happening just down the road from my house and what was going on in Iraq," she said in the Morning News interview. "It's 2006, the third-year anniversary of the invasion and the third year of photographing at the derby. For me the parallels are still relevant. The grief I feel for the animals is intertwined with a distress regarding the folly of humans."
Mantell currently lives and works in Orwell, Vt. She earned a BFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute before earning her Stanford MFA. She has taught courses at Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, Stanford and the San Francisco Art Institute.
The Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. The gallery is located on the Stanford campus at 415 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 p.m. and all day on weekends. For more information, call 723-3404 or visit the web at http://art.stanford.edu/.
To obtain images, contact Lisa Vestal at (650) 725-3107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.