November 10 – January 15, 2012
The inspiration for Michael Seif’s photographs of the human body began with his studies in vertebrate zoology at Cornell University.
“In the first session of the human anatomy lab, the instructor had us gather around the draped cadaver,” Seif says. “He explained that the body before us had been home to the person who lived there. Although the person was no longer there, we must respect that person and the body, and be thankful for that gift of knowledge that person was bestowing on us.”
“The instructor’s words have stayed with me for more than 40 years,” Seif adds. “Today, as I photograph the human body, very much alive, I wonder at and am enthralled at the life within it.”
A series of his photographs, The Fluid Figure, is featured in The Atelier Gallery at the Stoneham Theatre in Stoneham, MA, November 10 through January 15. A reception is December 15, 6-7:30 p.m. The exhibit runs parallel to the theater’s productions of Buddy Cop 2, The Nutcracker, Sister’s Christmas Catechism, and Edwards Twins 2012.
Seif’s first attempt at photographing nudes was in 1969 during a workshop at the New School in New York. “When I compared my first nude photographs with the photographs of Edward Weston and Ruth Bernhard, I didn’t feel I was contributing anything new, so moved on in different directions with my photography,” he says.
Thirty years later, Seif was swimming in an abandoned quarry where people swam and sunbathed nude. “Set deep in the woods, the quarry is now flooded with water darkened by leaf tannins,” he remembers. “The bodies of swimmers and sunbathers are highlighted by the sunlight, accented by the darkness of the water, and stand in contrast to the various textures of granite. The setting and the people presented beautiful images.”
Since he began photographing the figure in nature, Seif says he has “been fortunate to work with a number of people who are comfortable in their own skins, who project that feeling of comfort, and who have made me feel privileged to photograph them in beautiful natural settings. “Our photography is very much a collaboration, with models bringing their own ideas and experiences, and their joy at being alive and at home within their own bodies,” he adds. Before studying photography, Seif, of Watertown, MA, earned a degree in vertebrate Zoology at Cornell University in New York and was an advanced science writing fellow at Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City. His photography is widely exhibited and he has won many awards.