Category Archives: projects

Even in decay, nature still provides.

As I got off the train yesterday and walked towards my car, my eye was caught by a landscaped area by the bike racks . It contained a large mass of prickly pear that seemed to have met its demise in a brief but dramatic thunderstorm that hit the area a couple of days ago. It was a sad sight, but at the same time, quite beautiful. There was much going on as pill bugs and snails were at the scene, doing their due diligence and taking advantage of the carnage. Nature is efficient, she is resourceful, and she is not wasteful.  She self grooms in these storms, recycling energy back into her intelligent systems that humankind can’t fully comprehend. What can we glean from her wisdom? There are infinite resources in observing nature. How can we learn from this paradigm of decay? In our disposable society, we generate so much toxic waste-soiling of our own nest. If we do not have the discipline and understanding  to make better choices for ourselves and our planet, then we need to cultivate solutions that do not cause further harm, and provide solutions to our damaging ways. Nature, has the answers. We just need to ask the right questions.

Prickly Pear in decay

Upon the arrival of the 4th nor’easter in 2 weeks, the media was full of shock and awe, broadcasting threat and doom, spreading fear based messages about the impending storm. Surely mother nature had delivered her best in the previous days, but I couldn’t help but think that there is never post storm coverage, of the wondrous beauty that she leaves behind. As much destruction that is reported, there are equally as many breathtaking scenes that she leaves behind in her wake. Though the storm comes in swiftly with broad punishing strokes, it is equally delicate and fragile, and painterly in its ways.

My daughter and I took a walk around the block as clumps of flakes floated down from the sky, and the black wet road was dusted with a thin coating of freshly made snowflakes. My daughter and I felt that in some way we were violating the individuality of each flake that had dropped down onto the earth, only to be crushed beneath our footsteps. The thin veneer of snow was nowhere near the predicted 7-11” Not even accumulating to 1”. We walked slowly noticing all the beautiful patterns the snow made in the trees and branches-an ombre of white around a tree trunk, directed by the wind. Then we heard a distant rumbling, becoming louder as a salt truck lumbered onto our block. Oblivious of our presence and the pristine untouched snow on the road, it plowed through, spinning large coarse chunks of salt onto the thin layer of snow. Harsh and violent, and unnecessary overkill for a situation that was completely unwarranted of the current condition. As we walked back, I looked at the deep grooves of the tire tracks, and the abrupt scattered pattern of salt thrown into the snows path. And I just felt bad, for the overly aggressive act that I had just witnessed, and complete sense of waste I felt on so many levels. I understand, that the salt truck had its marching orders – “pre-empting” further escalation by the storm, which by they way, never came to its full prediction. But I couldn’t help but feel that there was no asking, no evaluation of the situation, just a mighty blow. A “takeover.” This is how I feel humankind addresses nature. It’s a one sided show of control and disregard to shape, arrest, and conform her to our will and the irony is, that nature can take us out in one fell swoop, any time she wants to.

Salt Truck

Photograph Magazine

 

One of 3 deer found at the scene. Mating season, or "the Rut," occurs in autumn, when buck are in high pursuit of a doe.

One of 3 deer found at the scene. Mating season, or “the Rut,” occurs in autumn, when buck are in high pursuit of a doe.

Delighted to be featured in the Jan/Feb. issue of Photograph Magazine, curated by Elisabeth Biondi.

“Linda Kuo believes that nature, despite being disrespected by humankind, holds the answers to our survival. She insists that we should held accountable for its treatment-that good stewardship, rather than dominance, will lead to ecological solutions. Her convictions find expression in her photographs, which tell stories about the vulnerability and marginalization of animals.

In her most recent project, Reclaimed, deer killed in car collisions take center stage. Kuo lives in Westchester, New York, which like many suburban East Coast communities has an abundance of deer. They are perceived as a nuisance, a view she does not entirely share. Once day, coming across a deer killed along the road, she felt compassion for the lifeless body and was compelled to photograph it. While she was photographing in the pouring rain, a Department of Transportation truck came by to pick up the deer. The encounter sparked her curiosity about where they took the animal, and she began to research it. Ulster County, New York, not far from Westchester, enacted a program a few years ago in which the bodies of the deer are removed and turned into fertile compost. as soon as she found out about the program, she embarked on a project of documenting this cycle of animals being reclaimed and returned to nature.

Meticulously photographing each step of this process, Kuo does not shy away from its unsavory aspects, but her images are filled with reverence for the animal and nature. Her pictures are perfectly composed, though Kuo is self-taught, and their beauty derives in part from her instinctual connection with the natural world.

Linda Kuo grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where hers was the only Asian family in their middle class neighborhood. She felt marginalized and defenseless. Later, working in the fashion world, she felt similarly pigeonholed. In her photographic essays, she connects her own personal sense of alienation with the relationship of humans and animals, a thread that she will continue into her next series, about conservation.” – Elisabeth Biondi

 

GEO Wissen

Very happy to be featured in GEO Wissen, featuring images from my project “Displaced.” The feature story focuses on animals undergoing various states of rehabilitation. “Displaced” focuses on exotic pets that receive treatment at the Avian and Exotic Medical Center in NYC, and their experiences at the center.

From the project "Displaced"

From the project “Displaced”

From the project "Displaced"

From the project “Displaced”

img_5743_email

 

Very honored to have been awarded first place for documentary single image for “Elegant End” from The Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary / 10th Julia Margaret Cameron award for female photographers!

I remember every photograph that I’ve taken, and every time I look at one of my images, it instantly takes me back to the circumstance in which I shot it. The power of visual storytelling. I remember the morning I came across this deer as if it were yesterday. I was on my way to an appointment. It was a cool, damp and foggy morning. I was 45 minutes away from my house, and as I approached a curve in the road, I immediately saw this doe laying off to the side of the road, her legs gingerly protruding from underneath the guardrail, and I knew I had to go back. I was not able to stop anywhere along the roadway, and as it was, I didn’t have my camera. Of course. But I was haunted by this image, and after my appointment I drove the 45 minutes back to my home, got my camera, and drove the 45 min. back to the scene, hoping she’d still be there.  It’s a risk to photograph roadkill for any number of reasons. Usually it’s somewhat dangerous pulling to the side of the road, and shooting in the shoulder so close to automobiles zipping by. You’re usually in a position that makes you vulnerable to traffic, and as a driver myself, who has been startled by a runner without reflective gear, a bicyclist without a helmet,  I don’t trust other drivers to be alert to people crossing, riding their bikes, or other pedestrian circumstances.  So, as I’ve been told by a police officer who has confronted me once, my presence on the road is a distraction, and cause for an accident. So, having that in mind, I never have much time to shoot. Within the short window I have to work, I become very present with my situation. Even before I shoot, I usually take a few moments, to just feel my subject. The circumstance.  There isn’t a time where I have photographed a fallen animal by the side of the road, where part of me doesn’t become lost. Saddened by the sudden loss of life, the plight of a sentient being trying to survive. Navigating the roadways in order to search for food, a mate, a nesting or breeding area, only to be taken out so abruptly. As I stood over this doe, her elegant pose, her delicate feminine limbs mimicking those of a woman, the very green leaf. I left with a heavy heart (as I always do,) but feeling that by documenting her in this way–strong, bold yet delicate, somehow keeps her alive and pays homage to what she represents. The fight, the struggle for survival, yet never losing her strength and resiliency, and not forsaking her femininity.

"Elegant End" from the project "Reclaimed"

“Elegant End” from the project “Reclaimed”

Food for Thought. Redefined

In the name of tradition, 46 million turkeys will end up on Thanksgiving tables today. I came across this article written by the Huffington Post, which depicts the turkey as simply terrifying in appearance, exhibiting pictures of them in harsh lighting and unflattering angles, highlighting their seeming unsightly characteristics, and presenting them as flaws.  Well in all fairness, I have myself been terrified,  when accidentally flipping the camera on my iphone, only to be confronted with my own face, as I frantically panicked and fumbled, while attempting to flip the camera back. Then I spend the next 5 minutes convincing myself that it was just bad lighting and surely I don’t look anything like what I just witnessed.

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-11-19-50-pm

Huffington Post

The thing about labeling, is whether it be a person, place or thing, once we label something we immediately limit its potential, and cut off any opportunity or consideration for it to be something else. It’s been defined, compartmentalized, confined and constrained within that definition. It no longer has the ability to cross-pollinate.

As long as I can remember, it seems that the Turkey has been considered an unintelligent, lowly, ugly bird. Unworthy of any consideration, with the exception of once a year, when everyone gathers around and gives thanks, before choosing white or dark meat. Contrary to popular belief, the turkey is a sensitive and intelligent bird, being able to recognize another turkey by their individual voices. They have miraculous eye sight, and can fly up to 55 miles / hour in short bursts. They are sensitive and highly connected socially to their rafter. (group of turkeys) Sadly, 99% of the turkeys that land on your table at Thanksgiving are factory farmed, and bred in a monstrous way that makes them so large breasted, they are unable to mate. If that makes you curious as to how it’s possible to get to 46 million turkeys for Thanksgiving if they can’t naturally reproduce, you can read about the process in bioethicist Peter Singer’s article in the LA Times, “Consider the Turkey at Thanksgiving.”

How each of us views and defines the world, is based on our own belief system, which is a culmination of our life experiences. Conscious, and subconscious. The only hope for us as a nation, to bridge our ever widening gap, is to consider different points of view. “Consider” being the operative word.

How the Huffington Post illusrates the turkey, and how I view the turkey, are very different. There is no right or wrong, it’s a matter of opinion. However,  though we may just be talking about the appearance of a well known bird, and surely the Huffington Post is merely poking fun in its article, it can be a fragile line to toe, when it comes to labeling the appearance of anything. People, animals, cultures, countries.

I see the turkey as a marvel. Regal even, with a pantone of colors that only nature can create. A myriad of patterns and textures, simultaneously refined and grotesque. Having sat in a rafter of turkeys myself, their soft thumping and strutting was mesmerizing, had the most calming effect. It was really something to behold. I for one, will be tucking into a variety of root vegetables and acorn squash on this day of thanks.

kuo_101101_3752-edit

The wattle, fluid and fabric-like, textural like wax. Vivid in color, and in contrast with an intense blue not often found in nature.

kuo_160602_6420-edit

The remarkably intricate patterns and iridescent colors of the feathers. Astounding.

kuo_160602_

The engineering of the feathers, inexplicable.

kuo_101101_

Angel-like wings. The white tips catching the light, transparent and opaque, were delicate and a sight to behold.