Masterpieces of Creation

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy.


Man has always felt an irresistible urge to paint, draw or depict in some form the animals encountered in daily life. Stone-age men are known by their cave paintings in which they richly portrayed scenes of bison, horses and other large mammals. The Egyptians viewed animal life as divine gifts and attributed animal characteristics to their deities: thus animal-god images abound in the form of paintings, statues, and stone monuments; an outstanding example being the famous Sphinx of Giza. This extreme reverence for animals is even more evident in their uncanny practice of animal mummification. The Romans appreciation for animals also found its way into mosaics, sculpture, frescoes and other forms of art. Native Americans, even today, show honor and deep respect for animal life, seeing them as creatures endowed with spiritual qualities; and the list goes on and on. In fact, from primitive cave images to contemporary works of art, every culture toiling over the face of this earth has in some creative way let their innate affinity with animals be known, for by virtue of Mother Nature humans and animals are inseparable.


Strangely, by the 16th century the use of animal representation in art had declined; hence the subject became inappropriate for serious artists. Fortunately, that changed once again when an artist by the name of Albrecht Durer, a German painter who viewed the subject of animals as worth all his sweat- meticulously painting his animals with reverence to the smallest detail, a painstaking job as you can realize by looking at one of his famous works Young Hare I - resurrected the flame. Later in the 18th century, another animal aficionado, George Stubbs, by the pure quality of his art work alone, raised the subject of animals back into an elevated position. However, he considered nature, not art, his primary cradle of inspiration.


With the advance of photography, the modern artist has yet another medium in which to pour his deep appreciation for the animal kingdom. Deeper yet, nature photographers today are being called, if not by conservation organizations, by a higher power, to do all in their might in unveiling the animal world in its entire splendor, for never in history has there been such a tremendous need for a distinctive awareness for animal life to take place, for never in history has the survival of so many species been threatened with the prospect of mass extinction due not only to environmental and political factors, but also to advances in zoology, botany and medicine. 21st century animals are being sacrificed upon the altar of science and technology; 21st century nature photographers more than photo-snappers or artists, are conservationists.


Not long ago while visiting the Caleb Smith State Park in Long Island, I was enthralled by a display of the skeletal frames of various species of birds, mammals and reptiles, all perfectly conserved in their natural assembles, so intricate in design as if the product of modern engineering genius. It made me wonder about our ancestors and their knowledge of animal anatomy. Ancient people knew animals as much on the outside as they did on the inside. Probably why, they were such a source of inspiration in the ancient world.


Alike my ancestors, my primary source of inspiration comes, not from some remote, exotic location, but from my own neighborhood backyard. Now, I’m not implying that photographers shouldn't travel; I just believe that all living creatures are masterpieces all on their own, whether from China, Costa Rica, or the backyards of East Harlem New York. In my case, my simple morning ritual of standing in the back porch every morning to savor my warm cup of tea and milk has connected me with all sorts of beautiful creatures; cardinals, sparrows, marlins, warblers, woodpeckers, squirrels, dragonflies, and other equally amazing beings. These, my most welcomed visitors, have never failed to amuse me with their showcase of animal antics and actually are the driving engine behind my nature writing and photography; I hope it can be yours too.




References:


Ryan Kenner Photography | Boston Wedding & Event Photography ..."Ryan Kenner Photography. np., n.d. Web. 29 May 2012 <http://www.ryankennerphotography.com/>.


http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/stubbs_george.html


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