Fine Art Photography Daily

PhotoNOLA Review Prize: Lee Deigaard


Deigaard_Lee_ArrestedLee Deigaard has created a wonderful series about things that go bump in the night and for that effort received 3rd Prize for her project Unbidden. As a result of her award, her photographs will appear on the PhotoNOLA website.  Her black and white images of animals after dark, with glowing eyes, are spooky and magical at the same time.  Her varied presentations add to the effect of memorializing life on the other side of the sun.

Lee graduated from Yale University with a major in fine arts and earned graduate degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art and Design and from the University of Texas at Austin where she held a Michener Fellowship in Creative Writing. In 2012 she won the Clarence John Laughlin Award for photography for her series of nocturnal images of animals “Unbidden”. In 2013, she had solo shows at the Alexandria Museum of Art, the Acadiana Center for the Arts, the University of New Orleans, and the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans where her multi-level video, photographic, and sculptural installation “SubMERGE” remains on view through Feb 2, 2014. Her solo show of photography “Trespass” and her video installation “PULSE” are on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art through April 6, 2014. She is an artist member of the New Orleans collective The Front.


I use the camera hunters use. When animals know me, I wield it handheld and shoot blindly, a proprioceptive choreography in the dark.
With wild animals, I keep my distance. I learn only what they choose to announce.
Privacy. Incursions. There is no informed consent. Woman with a camera. Hunter with a gun. Something is taken.
In the woods, my blunter senses are a bubble. The animals around me hold their breath. I don’t know the half of what goes on. The deer watch from a distance. I keep my head down. If our gazes meet, they bound away, their foraging disturbed. Winter is coming.

I saw a big cat. Bigger than a bobcat, a panther. The dogs ran about, excited, but the panther was cloaked. There and yet somehow not there.
She looked at me. I froze. Like a deer, we say. A deer in headlights. The incidental moment. The stolen moment. The deep introspection of moments between motions.
I looked down. At my feet the cat’s breakfast, interrupted, a freshly killed squirrel.

At night, the coyotes move close, singing to the passing train. The bobcat strolls under the porch. The armed poacher with his dog and his lantern passes along the crest of the near hill.

Flight response. Hair trigger reflex. The gun, the flash. Empathy unfolds after the fact.

My work portrays animal protagonists and the landscape we mutually inhabit.
I am interested in ways of seeing and being seen: the meeting and crossing of gazes, looking through and seeing [what is] past. The mind’s eye, the forensics of memory, recollection, and projection, the existential filters of species and tree branches and deep darkness.
Eyes are windows, windows are viewfinders, boundaries, frames, and lenses.
Object, subject, free will, trespass are illuminated in the hidden moments between moments. The plasticity of identity, of identification, shares borders- human and animal, light and dark, body and space.












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