What began as a project about “The Year of the Yang” in the Chinese zodiac (goat, sheep, or ram) has become a pursuit of pastoral ideal embodied in actual animals. The next iteration of my series of photographs reflects the beauty and individual spirit of each subject. My interest in animals isn’t about their wild nature, or exoticism; rather I am interested in their domesticity. How have we influenced their evolution? What are they becoming? The question concerns why and how we have created this relationship with other species.
I define pastoral as the comfortable balance between people and their place in nature. In the classically pastoral, the human imprint is benign and the attitude respectful, suggesting contentment. The work of 18th and 19th century British painters has influenced my approach to composition and light. As an environmental photographer, I’m not drawn to oil spills, scars on the land, or unsightly encroachments; but I am looking for something humans effect nonetheless. When I set off on this project to document this relationship, I knew the direction I wanted to explore, but not what I would find. The project evolved from almost an intimate concern with the animals themselves to a more inclusive attempt to anchor these animals in the landscape. The implications of the animals in relationship to the land interest me.