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This summer I started to photograph some items from  the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine anatomy department. For three days I worked in relative silence with the remains of various animals. I was struck by the beauty of what remained and also the unseen spirit of the animals. Each item I photographed was part of something that once lived. I found myself talking to the items as I worked. It is my way of honoring the life that existed in the bones and silent jars. It was lonely business otherwise.

I used available light and a 4×5 monorail camera with black and white film. I wanted to keep the entire process as organic as possible. Like the chapter of Moby Dick where the sailor is eating whale by the light of a whale oil lamp; I made images of animals using gelatin based film. While it is not a perfect analogy, I wanted to keep things as “organic” as possible. These images are a celebration of life and nature but also recognize the fragile thread that connects us all to the world.

Chimpanzee Skull