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  • ISBN 13: 9781942084174
  • ISBN 10: 194208417X
  • Price: $45.00 / $58.50 CAN
  • Status: Active

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Birds Bones and Butterflies

Photographs by Leah Sobsey, Other John Fitzpatrick, Other Xandra Eden

Leah Sobsey works at the intersection of nineteenth century photographic processes and twenty-first century digital technology. Sobsey photographs bird skins, bleached bones, clipped ferns, and tattered shoes that she unearths from the dark drawers of national park museum collections. Plucked from their original context, she illuminates them with sun and light, giving them new definition. The subject matter of each series she creates is dictated by her discoveries, bridging past to present, honoring both the specimens she works with and the medium of photography.Her project is particularly timely during this centennial year of national parks service, and as museum collections are in a current state of crisis due to diminishing funding and support. Her focus on the parks is a way of preserving these fragile specimens that represent American history. This body of work sheds light on the importance and significance of the collections and their impact on science, history, the humanities and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who leave their footprints on our national parks.

Leah Sobsey is an artist and educator. Her combined art and anthropology background shaped her love of stories and gave her the tools to artfully map and investigate her own history and now others. Sobsey primarily works in 19th century photographic processes intertwined with digital technology. She received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Guilford College. She has exhibited nationally in galleries, museums and public spaces, and her work is held in private and public collections across the country. She has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute and the Maine Photographic Workshops, and currently teaches at the Center for Documentary studies at Duke University and is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Sobsey is the co-founder of the Visual History Collaborative and one of the core artists in Bull City Summer, a collaborative documentary project that explores the Durham Bulls AAA baseball team. Bull City Summer, the book, published by Daylight Books was released in 2014 and is one of their top sellers. Sobsey’s images have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review Daily, Slate.com and many more.

Xandra Eden is Executive Director & Chief Curator of DiverseWorks in Houston. She was previously Curator of Exhibitions for the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, NC. Since 2003, she has organized over 60 exhibitions of work by national and international contemporary artists. Recent major exhibitions include Zones of Contention: After the Green Line (2015); Nancy Rubins: Drawing, Sculpture, Studies (2014); and Diana Al-Hadid (2013). Eden held positions at the The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, and Women & Their Work Gallery, Austin. She received her BFA from SUNY Purchase and MA from CCS at Bard College.


Dr. John Fitzpatrick is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1974, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1978. Since 1995 he has been Director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. Previously (1988-1995), he was Executive Director of Archbold Biological Station, a private ecological research foundation in central Florida. From 1978 to 1989 he was Curator of Birds and Chairman of the Department of Zoology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. He is a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union, served as its President (2000-2002), and in 1985 received its highest research honor (Brewster Award) for his co-authored book Florida Scrub-Jay: Ecology and Demography of a Cooperative Breeding Bird.

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