Kevin Horan: Goats and Sheep
Over the years, I’ve so enjoyed Kevin Horan’s portraiture, in particular, his portraits of animals “who command our undivided attention and respect.” The sign of any good portrait photographer is not only respect for one’s subjects, but having curiosity, compassion, and the ability to elevate the person or in this case, the animal, to another level. His images of farm animals are heroic and elegant and they “ask us to notice the variety, dignity, and personalities of these lowliest of creatures, who speak to us through the camera in a profile, a side ward glance, or direct gaze.”
Kevin has a new book of this work, Goats and Sheep, A Portrait Farm, published by Five Continents Editions with an essay by award-winning author Elena Passarello. The book is available in English, Italian and French, and Photo-eye Books is offering signed copies with limited edition prints.
Kevin Horan is a photographic artist based in Langley, Washington, USA. He is working on projects which look at animals as people, people as animals, and the planet as a very small place in the universe. His pictures are reality-based. He enjoys finding the amazing hidden in the ordinary.
Horan’s work was chosen for the Top 50 of Photolucida Critical Mass in 2014. It has shown at PDNB Gallery in Dallas, Kinescope Gallery in New York, Edition One Gallery in Santa Fe, EBK Gallery in Hartford and Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, Ind.
His work is in collections of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Comer Archive at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Park Service and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago.
A former photojournalist, Horan has published his work in LIFE, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic and numerous other magazines. He was based in Chicago from 1976 to 2006, whence he traveled to assignments worldwide. His coverage included presidential campaigns, Amazon basin development, village life in Russia, housing projects in the U.S., hurricane Katrina, the Iditarod sled dog race, and following a dollar bill for a week.
Horan has been artist in residence at Glacier National Park; staff photographer for Chicago in the Year 2000; contract photographer for U.S. News and World Report; and staff photographer for the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times. He received a degree in journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Goats and Sheep: A Portrait Study
After my move from city to country, my new neighbors–sheep–greeted me in a chorus of such different voices that I imagined they were individuals, this flock. Deep experience in making portraits of humans made me wonder if the process could be applied to these creatures.
Treated as customers of the local photo studio, they seem to have personalities. Perhaps they do, and the photograph allows us to see them. Or perhaps the language of the photo cues us to see them as non-human persons.
We respond to gesture in such an elemental way. It’s in our nervous system. It’s what photography is so good at catching. It’s what actors are good at producing. It’s how we communicate with one another non-verbally.
This is a work about portraiture: what it does and how it works. These pictures ask for engagement of our own feelings about the souls within other beings, human or otherwise, and how visible they are from out here.
The world around us is pulsing with life and intelligence, even if we don’t know what to make of it or how to connect. While it’s plain to anyone carefully observing that these farm animals do indeed have individual personalities, how can I be certain I’ve captured them? Can I bridge the cross-species gap? Who’s in there? What is going on in that brain, inside the goat mind? Every portrait is a fiction.
These farm species have lived alongside us–served us–from the earliest times. If we care enough to give our attention in a focused way, the result is beauty and homage. They are worthy of that.
When we draw a hard line between humans and all the others, we make the world a smaller place—for us. A place where we spend all our efforts obsessed with our own tribe . . . a less interesting place. – Kevin Horan
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