Gregory Colbert: The Man Behind The Lens<br />Colin Henning<br />Gregory Colbert himself swimming with blue whales. Untitled<br />29718002743200My mother and her side of the family, in its entirety are Canadian. This factoid makes my brother and I fifty percent Canadian. This little peak into my personal life allows you to see the commonality I share with the Canadian photographer Gregory Colbert. Colbert has spent much of his adult life traveling the world and experimenting with the subjects and composition of his photography. Actually, twelve years is how long he spent away on a total of thirty-three expeditions to exotic locations in India, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and other neighboring countries. The astounding vision of this photographer sets him apart from everybody else who holds a camera in their hands because his photos bring about feeling and wonderful emotion from the animals that are just as exotic as the places they inhabit. <br />Colbert is considered so influential partially because of the way that he displays his art. Ashes and Snow is a three-part traveling exhibit, which Colbert sees as purest art because he is attempting to make it accessible to all (Colbert, Gregory). His photographs are displayed on large Japanese paper, untitled, and approximately six by nine feet (Capuzzo, Mariangela). Accompanying these photos is a narrative video, in which Colbert is also in, and a book of journal entries that includes photos from his expeditions. In these large-scale photos there is no text explaining the images, so each and every one of us can interact with our emotions and the beautiful creatures that are looking right back at us with their natural beauty and vibrancy of being in their own element. Since he expresses his art on three mediums it reaches a wider demographic; it can touch everyone of all ages because we are all connected. The animals in the photographs, the people involved in the images, and the astounding beauty of mother nature are all wound together beautifully because we all share a common thread, as we are all apart of this earth. It is transportable and offers space where people can interact with each other because everyone can connect themselves with the art and definite human interaction has a need to share and talk about the beauty they are seeing. <br />2286002170430Colbert’s universal ambition with his work is to celebrate life the world over, whether it is animal or human. Now I am going to ask what Colbert asks with his artwork, how many of these people are still connected to the natural world, even in some little way? When people come to see Ashes and Snow exhibit, the emotion, and experience that seems to charge over them is very common. What they are experiencing Colbert says, “What they feel here are natural emotions about a way of life or relationships with animals that have been lost to most of us” (Christian Amodeo). When they perceive this art, many are lamenting closeness to the natural world that was once deeply held but now is lost due to the urbanization and development of our world. The security guards that work at the exhibit have even been renamed as consolers, because they are there to comfort and talk to people when they need a friendly ear to listen or shoulder to cry on. <br />The images themselves alone are so serene and beautiful in that nothing is out of place. Shows the love and adoration for his work that he works with two of the most difficult groups to work with, animals and children. “His ambition is to dissolve the boundaries between man and other species, between art and nature, between now and forever”(McGuigan, Cathleen). When humans do appear in his photos, they have their eyes closed, as to close to gap of power and feeling between us and animals. My favorite photo of the three shown here is the one with the woman and the elephant trunks. It is very moving and linear. You cannot even see much of the elephant but you can still feel how serene the animals are, and how the passion of the woman towards them is portrayed even though her eyes are closed.<br />2819400-1586865 The objective of his photos with the detail of animals in their natural habitat, and humans with their eyes closed is to bridge to gap between people and the real natural earth we live in. Did you know that there are more than 19 cities in the world with over 10 million people? Statistics on this matter change very rapidly, but over half of the world’s 6.5 Billion people live in urbanized cities. (Human Population). If so many of us live in over-populated, concrete mazes then it is very reasonable to assume that we have evolved to adjust to our surroundings, and have lost a little bit of our natural connection to our beautiful planet we call home. Colbert’s work brings that natural emotion and instinct out of us, even if just for a moment. Looking at his work can almost re-connect you with who you are. No matter who you are. This is why his work has been regarded as powerful, moving, and remarkable. It is the transformation of understanding that one goes through when standing in front of the large-scale sepia photographs hanging on old-style Japanese paper.<br />Keeping the animals in their natural habitats allowed Colbert to bring his art to life while staying true to the voice, or soul feeling if you will, of each animal’s voice. From this we can see differences in the way each of the animals evokes emotions in us. Colbert has developed a charity with an emphasis in animal conservation and art. I would encourage anyone who is interested to check it out and give if they feel so inclined. <br />What drew me to Gregory Colbert is his interesting subject matter, and the even more astonishing way he photographs and portrays his subjects. He chose to use animals as well as children as his main subject matter, because he viewed the specific animals he photographed as “nature’s living masterpieces” (Giovannini, Joeseph). I firmly believe Gregory Colbert has left a positive impression in the lives of many, and will be remembered for his compassion towards animals, and love for opening the eyes of the world to some of our most precious resources; life itself.<br />(Note: Photos entered into paper are all from Ashes and Snow exhibit. Untitled)<br />Bibliography<br />Capuzzo, Mariangela. "
Through The Elephant's Eye."
Hispanic 19.5 (2006): 36-38. Ebscohost. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2010. G1<br />"
Christian Amodeo in Conversation With: Gregory Colbert."
Color Photograph Geo 77.9: 106. Ebscohost. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2010. G2<br />Colbert, Gregory. Ashes and Snow. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2010. http://www.ashesandsnow.org/en/home.php actual site<br />Giovannini, Joeseph. "
At Home With Gregory Colbert."
New York Times: 1. LexusNexus. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2010. G4<br />Human Population: Urbanization. Population Reference Bureau. Web. April.-May. 2010. http://www.prb.org/HumanPopulation/Urbanization <br />McGuigan, Cathleen. "
Smithsonian 36.3. Ebscohost. Web. Jan.-Feb. 2010. G3<br />