October 18 – December 2, 2018
Reception October 25, 2018 7-8:30 PM
R. J. Kern talk October 26, 2018 7 PM
Natural History is a series of completely candid single exposure images that merge the living and the dead to create allegorical narratives of our troubled co-existence with nature. Ghost-like reflections of modern visitors viewing wildlife dioramas are juxtaposed against the antique taxidermied subjects housed behind thick glass, their faces molded into permanent expressions of fear, aggression or fleeting passivity. After decades of over-hunting, climate change, poaching and destruction of habitat, many of these long dead diorama specimens now represent endangered or completely extinct species.
During the summer of my ninth and tenth years, my mother, in lieu of hiring a babysitter, kept me captive in our hometown Natural History Museum all day, every day. She functioned as a vibrant and quirky volunteer curator while I spent very long, solitary weeks communing with the museum’s animals, both living and dead, as well as operating the ancient manual elevator for employees and rummaging through the museum’s disheveled collection of mite riddled, century old periodicals and books housed in a private storage. I have since harbored an immense affection for all things old and musty and mysterious, particularly preserved animals whose half dead/half alive presence is at once fascinating and unnerving.
In 2008, during a long anticipated visit to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, I accidentally created an intriguing image while “snapshotting” their dioramas. A reflection of my husband, inadvertently rendered in the glass and framed behind a large ostrich, gave me pause. A few months later, I began to frequent diorama exhibits around the country furtively aiming at capturing these narratives. It is both exhilarating and humbling to be the catalyst for these truly alchemical images which are set against a century old stage and born of random timing and fractured light.
Traer Scottis an award winning fine art and commercial photographer and author of seven books including Nocturne: Creatures of the Night (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014), Finding Home; Shelter Dogs and Their Stories (Princeton Architectural Press, Fall 2015) and Wild Babies; Photographs of Baby Animals from Giraffes to Hummingbirds (Chronicle Books, 2016). Her work is exhibited around the world and has been featured in National Geographic, Life, Vogue, People, O, on the NY Times Lens Blog, Behold and dozens of other national and international print and online publications. Her first solo museum show Natural Historywas exhibited at the University of Maine Museum of Art in 2015. Traer was the recipient of the 2010 Rhode Island State Council for the Arts Photography Fellowship Grant and the 2008 Helen Woodward Humane Award for animal welfare activism. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband, daughter and adopted dogs: a pit bull and a baby basset hound.