Tag Archives: Oregonian

Critical Mass: Carli Davidson

Looking at portfolios from Critical Mass 2011…

Carli Davidson is a dog person. Many of her series revolve around the world of dogs, and Pets with Disabilities is no different, but it is pogninant and heartfelt. You may have seen Carli’s wonderful series, Shake, about dogs in motion on a variety of blogs recently. A Portland photographer, she has a background in both commercial and documentary photography, as well as over 7 years experience as an animal trainer and caretaker. Her love of both art and animals led her to work as an animal care technician and photographer for the Oregon Zoo, as well as a volunteer photographer for local animal rescues. Her photography has been published in Portland Monthly, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune, and numerous Zoo publications. She is also a regular photo contributor to Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.

Pets with Disabilities Project: Last winter while spending a rainy day at the beach I was struck by something I had never seen before, a wheelchair bound dog playing fetch with its owner. I watched for over an hour as the dog ran back and fourth along the water, tongue flapping, feet wet and covered in sand, seemingly unaware of the lifeless limbs that trailed behind him.

After this I decided to start photographing local pets with disabilities and interviewing their owners to find out more about their lives. These are people who’ve opted to do whatever it takes to maintain their pets quality of life, to have surgeries, to change diapers, to buy apparatuses, to put in the extra time and effort to make their friends comfortable.

These are some of animals I have come across since starting this series. The owners are dedicated and happy just to have their friends around, totally undeterred by the extra work put towards taking care of animals with special needs. There is a common theme of inspiration and admiration for their pets ability to quickly recover their spirit and personality after the disabilities onset. Many people tell me that seeing these animals helps put their own struggles in perspective. “They keep going, and want nothing more than to play!” States one pet owner.

I have watched every one of these animals display what I consider to be happiness in the face of physical adversity. While these animals may look different they are not sad, nor generally in any pain, they are in fact living a full life with owners who adore them.

Dania Patricia Maxwell

Dania Patricia Maxwell’s first goal was to become a teacher. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College she traveled to Shanghai, China to teach English and Geography for one year. ” I went to China with the idea that I could come back to the states to begin a safe career working as a teacher. The summer vacations would provide me with time to work as a photojournalist. Once completing the year, however, I realized that I would never be a photographer if I were working towards a different career. I realized that the greatest failure would be to realize a passion and choose against it because of fear. With that in mind I moved from Shanghai to San Francisco where I collected experience that would lead me to becoming a photojournalist.”

What Dania may not realize is that she IS a teacher, passing on her knowledge and insights through her lens and experiences. Now a graduate from the School of Visual Communication , Dania worked as an intern at the Sandusky Register in Sandusky, Ohio and later at the The Oregonian. I have more questions than answers, but like Rainer Maria Rilke says, I have to live the questions to arrive at the answers. I’m interested in learning about the world and about what is meaningful. Photography provides me with the tools to get closer to people and their stories. My hope is that if I’m learning someone else will too.

The series I am featuring below is Distinctly, about twin sisters who are alike, yet different.

Distinctively from Dania Patricia Maxwell on Vimeo.

Distinctively: Ella and Eavan Kuehnle were born only three minutes apart—identical twins that are separated by a large distinction: Ella has Down syndrome while Eavan does not.

Their mother, Kimberly “Kim” Kuehnle, spent two months during the summer of 2004 in the hospital before giving birth to the twins. Her umbilical chord was not providing proper flow to one of her soon-to-be daughters. Seven days after the twins were born, Kim and Jonathan drove home without a briefing from their caregivers. They knew only the contents of the orange folder: five pages of problems associated with Downs and a scientific definition of the type of Down syndrome Ella had.

“I think I cried every day for three months,” Kim said. “Jonathan told me that it didn’t matter what Ella has because she is still our baby. I cried also because he was more accepting that I was.”

When Kim made the call to Help me Grow, a state and federally funded organization in Cincinnati that offers therapy services for infants with developmental delays, she began to learn about and accept her daughter’s prognosis.

The activities that Kim and Jonathan participate in, coincide with the desire to increase awareness of Down syndrome. It is in the process of relating to people, who are not typical, that decreases the probability to make hurtful remarks. “We need to mainstream our Special Education or people with disabilities,” Jonathan said.

Kim and Jonathan Kuehnle know that there are too many beginnings for their twins to decide on any ends. “Ella may need some assistance when she’s older,” said Jonathan. “She’s 6 right now, so we just don’t know.”

Carli Davidson

You may have seen Carli Davidson’s wonderful series, Shake, about dogs in motion on a variety of blogs recently. A Portland photographer, she has a background in both commercial and documentary photography, as well as over 7 years experience as an animal trainer and caretaker. Her love of both art and animals led her to work as an animal care technician and photographer for the Oregon Zoo, as well as a volunteer photographer for local animal rescues. Her photography has been published in Portland Monthly, The Atlantic, The Village Voice, The Oregonian, The Portland Tribune, and numerous Zoo publications. She is also a regular photo contributor to Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.

Shake might be the series that everyone sees, but don’t miss her other work that is incredibly heartfelt, including Pets with Diabilities and Animal Surgery. In fact, her entire website is worth exploring, especially for those who love animals.

Images from Shake