Todd Forsgren ruffles feathers every time he takes a picture.
A photographer and professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Forsgren has been recording images of wild birds in the moments after they fly into mist nets. Spread through the forests of the world, scientists and biologists rely on these nets to catch wild birds, temporarily suspending a bird’s flight plan as they measure, weigh, record and band the species before releasing them unharmed.
“It’s kind of like guerrilla 4×5 photography—I basically give myself ten minutes or so to set up and take the photographs so that biologists can get to the birds as quickly as possible so they don’t get stressed out,” says Forsgren.
As a biology student in college in 2003, Forsgren started bringing a camera with him on his trips to conduct fieldwork, but soon found himself more and more engrossed in his photography.
“Before long, it was clear that that’s where I wanted to put my energy,” he says. And so in 2006, Forsgren began pairing up with biologists conducting field work, offering to photograph their study species in exchange for prints of the birds they observed.
The clean background of his ornithological photographs suggest a controlled studio environment—a look not easily accomplished when working in the field across seven different locations ranging from the plains of Texas to the dense rainforests of Costa Rica.
“Obviously, in my photographs, you can’t tell that often times I’m in the rainforest or dry forest or grasslands,” he explains. Forsgren usually lugs his equipment over all sorts of terrain—his packing list includes either one or two studio lights, a light box, and 4×5 view camera with dark cloth.
Forsgren’s setup provides a clean slate that highlight the splashes of color and complex patterning of the netted birds, like the red cap of the Rufous-winged Woodpecker and the slight streaks of yellow on the underbelly of the Puerto Rican Tody. The aesthetic of his photography re-imagines the work of classical ornithologists, playing off the “very flamboyant poses” found in the sketches of John James Audubon and the systematic illustrations from the 20th century field guides of Roger Tory Peterson.
Audubon had the ambition to find and paint every bird of America, an aspiration Forsgren wants to take to the next level—his ultimate goal is to photograph Birds-of-Paradise in New Guinea.
BFA in Photography from The Maryland Institute, College of Art in
Baltimore, Maryland . Brady maintains a studio in Washington,
DC and Orlando, Florida. She is Associate Professor in the School of
Visual Arts and Design, University of Central Florida. Brady is also working to make Fotoweek D.C., running November 9-18th, a huge success.
Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World
Desks as Portraits: An Inside Look at the DC Art World documents the desks of artists, curators, collectors, art critics, dealers, museum directors and taste makers in the District. This project has become a “six degrees of separation” in the DC Art World. One photo shoot leads to another in which Brady asks for recommendations and names of possible subjects. Further introductions are made and invitations accepted which allows her private access to people who are making significant contributions to contemporary art and photography in DC.
This series explores the concept of desk as portrait combined with the social experiment of navigating the DC art world. Robinson plans to continue this series in new markets at home and abroad. This work has been featured in The Washington Post, Channel One Russia TV and won Grand Prize in the “American Life” exhibition in the 2011 Lishui Photography Festival.
I recently reviewed portfolios of photographic educators at the SPE National Conference in San Francisco. This week I am featuring some of the terrific work I got a chance to see….
Marie-José Durquet is a photographic educator, but she also educates through her unique photographs. I was enchanted by her series, Almost Gone, that are in part performance art, sculpture, and photography. The series is a form of public art, bringing awareness to endangered species. She creates fragile outlines of different species out of string and glues them into a public environment, allowing time and tread to eventually remove the object…which is exactly what happens to the species in real life.
Originally from the Basque country, Marie-Jose has worked as a teacher and artist in many parts of the World: in African diaspora: Guinea-Bissau, Botswana, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and has been on the photography faculty at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, the San Francisco Art Institute, UC Berkeley and California State University, Hayward. Marie-Jose received her MFA in painting and photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BA in Art from UC Davis. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA.
Almost Gone: This multimedia project brings together ideas about the ephemeral nature of art and the changing nature of our environment. Using yarn that I glued to concrete, wood and other surfaces found in urban areas, I made drawings that represent endangered plant and animal species. I chose to illustrate the various subjects with simple lines made from white yarn in order to evoke skeletal remains. This delicate material gives a tangible texture to the subject while creating a semi-permanent art piece. The evolution of each image culminates in a color photograph that documents the subject, process and location.
The inspiration for this project has been a life-long interest in environmental issues, which intensified after moving to San Francisco in the late 1990s and seeing the changes that had taken place over 25 years. The increase in development and surge of high tech industries had led to a reduction of open space and pollution of the natural habitats many species depend on. My choice of city structures and concrete as the background for the drawings is a metaphor for this conflict between urbanization and preservation of wildlife.
While the photographs can hang on a gallery wall, people walking throughout the city might also stumble upon the original drawings; they surprise and confront passers-by in a way that is similar to graffiti. My hope is that these images raise questions and invite dialogue while simultaneously injecting an element of beauty onto the harsh surfaces of the “concrete jungle” that many of us call home.
Joshua Dudley Greer was born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He received his BFA in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2002 and his MFA, with distinction, from the University of Georgia in 2009. Joshua's work has been featured in publications such as Smithsonian Magazine, Photographer's Forum Magazine and Flash Forward 2010. He has received grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and was a Critical Mass finalist in 2011. He is currently living in Johnson City, Tennessee where he is a visiting assistant professor of photography at East Tennessee State University.
Regina DeLuise, 1959, USA, is a fine art photographer based in Baltimore. She received a BFA at State University of New York and an MA at the Rosary College Graduate School of Fine Arts in Italy. Her poetic images contain a large range of tones and a lot of texture. To achieve this she makes platinum / palladium contact prints from 8×10″ film negatives. 100% rag paper is coated with a light-sensitive chemical and the metals onto which the negative is placed. The large contact prints are soft, dreamy yet strong in expression. Regina has been teaching at Maryland Institute College of Art since 1998. Her work is in various public collections as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Houston Museum of Fine Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Photographs have also been shown in numerous exhibitions, mainly in the USA. The following images come from the series Cortona, The Phenomenal World and Guggenheim.