A Long Walk
A Long Walk
For three years beginning in 2013, I worked at an open intake animal shelter. the shelter took in over 9,000 animals a year but with the space to house only a fraction of that number. I took the position because I wanted to help with their goal of making it a “no-kill” shelter. While I consider it the most worthwhile thing I've ever done, working in a high intake county facility with discarded and often mistreated animals also left me with much grief and lasting trauma.
Upon leaving the shelter, I began going on longer walks with my own dogs. Walking got me out of my head and reconnected me with the quiet and solitude of nature. It also helped me process grief. My experiences in animal welfare brought me closer to the significance, fragility and vulnerability inherent in everything - especially in the natural world. I began to notice and bring home common, seemingly insignificant things which are often overlooked… little pieces of bark, branches adorned with bright moss and lichen, beautiful root systems dug up and discarded, dead or dying bumble bees that would otherwise be stepped on, cicadas, luna moths, butterflies, nests that had blown out of trees, bones, birds, feathers, giant beetles, wasps nests, hornets nests, pine cones, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, fungus, etc. I saved (and still do) everything I possibly could - right down to worms struggling on the sidewalk. I wanted everything to know that it mattered, that someone noticed it and saw its particular specialness in the world.
Eventually, I began to visually process the grief. While walking, different personas began to emerge in my mind, ultimately becoming concepts for photographs. These concepts have come to life in this work, and are created with all the pieces of nature that I had cathartically saved, perhaps not from death but from being invisible, taken for granted and forgotten. Now there is a record, and rebirth in a photograph.
In a larger context, this needed connection and appreciation of nature is overshadowed by destruction and habitat loss due to climate change and the countless instances where conservation is not properly prioritized. My hope is to make a case for how truly integral the natural world is, even in its smallest components, to the health of our individual lives and to bring global environmental issues down to a personal scale as a reminder of how critical it is to advocate for its preservation.
These images were captured with a large format camera and film.