Domesticated: Modern Dioramas of Our New Natural History: Photographs by Amy Stein

December 22, 2009

The Harvard Museum of Natural History announces a new exhibition, opening January 22, 2010, of striking, large-scale color photographs by New York–based visual artist Amy Stein. Domesticated: Modern Dioramas of our New Natural History: Photographs by Amy Stein explores the tenuous relationship between humans and animals as human civilization increasingly encroaches upon nature. Domesticated: Modern Dioramas of Our New Natural History: Photographs by Amy Stein will be on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History through April 18, 2010.

Informed by actual newspaper accounts and oral histories from residents of the small town of Matamoras in northeastern Pennsylvania, Stein’s photographs are staged scenes, often using taxidermied animals, illustrating real-life encounters between humans and animals. A girl and huge bear stare at each other from opposite sides of a fence surrounding the family pool. Coyotes howl at a street light. Stein’s images, at the same time both surreal and paradoxical, explore the increasingly permeable boundary between the human/built environment and the wild. Stein writes, “We at once seek connection with the mystery and freedom of the natural world, yet we continually strive to tame the wild around us and compulsively control the wild within our own nature."

Elisabeth Werby, Executive Director of the Harvard Museum of Natural History commented. “Stein’s images are vivid, dramatic and sometimes even humorous, yet they invite us to consider—and reconsider—the way we live with other animals.”

About the Artist

Amy Stein was raised in Washington, DC, and Karachi, Pakistan. In 2007, she was named one of the world’s top fifteen emerging photographers by American Photo magazine. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the United States and in Europe, and her photographs are represented in such prestigious public collections as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; the San Jose Museum of Art, California; and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona. Her work has been exhibited at the ClampArt gallery, New York, NY; Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Pool Gallery, Berlin, Germany; and the Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Her book, Domesticated, was published by PhotoLucida in 2008.

Exhibition Associated Events

Friday, January 22, 4:00 pm

Artist’s Exhibition Opening Talk by Amy Stein.Visual artist Amy Stein will talk about her unique process of creating and photographing modern dioramas based upon actual news accounts of encounters between humans and wildlife in rural Pennsylvania. Free with museum admission.

Saturday, January 23, 2:00 pm 
Coyote at the Kitchen Door: A Conversation with Stephen DeStefano & Amy Stein. Wildlife biologist Stephen DeStefano’s newest book, Coyote at the Kitchen Door, and the work of photographer Amy Stein both address the blurred boundary between human life and wildlife in modern society. Bears, deer, fox, coyote, and birds are increasingly encroaching upon areas considered to be ‘ours’. Booksigning to follow. Free with museum admission.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is located at 26 Oxford Street, a 7-8 minute walk through historic Harvard Yard from the Harvard Square T station. The Museum is handicapped accessible. More than 175,000 visitors a year make the museum the University’s most visited attraction.

See also: Press Release