Science Meets Fine Art

Yola Monakhov-Stockton, a professional photographer and professor at Smith College, visited the Manomet Center’s banding laboratory in August to photograph birds.

 

This was Monakhov-Stockton’s second visit to the banding lab. She first visited in the fall of 2011, when she took photos that are featured in her new series Tableaux.

 

She spent an entire day at the headquarters property taking more than 60 large format photographs of birds that were caught in our mist nets before they were released. Monakhov-Stockton is known for bringing a photography studio setup outdoors into the living environment, constructing scenes that make it difficult to tell whether her subjects – often plants and animals – are alive or not.

 

“Several years ago, an artist told me that John James Audubon killed his birds and pinned them to a grid – that this was where both their naturalism and sometimes their contorted poses came from,” Monakhov-Stockton told Time magazine in a recent interview. “I decided that a condition for my work would be a certain claim of authenticity – perhaps something similar to the claim that’s often advanced by photojournalism: to bring forth something live.”

 

One of the photos from Tableaux features a Northern Cardinal juxtaposed against a white background and the view of Cape Cod Bay visible from the Manomet bluffs.

 

Monakhov-Stockton started her career as a photojournalist, reporting for Newsweek, the New Yorker and the New York Times. In 2005, she switched her focus to pursue an MFA in Visual Arts at Columbia University.

 

“All of the students had private studios,” Monakhov-Stockton said in the Time interview. “But I noticed that many of the photographers didn’t really use their studios, or at least not in the same way as other artists. I didn’t want to abandon straight photography, so I began to ask myself what it would mean to have a studio practice. That’s when I started gathering studio-like materials and bringing them out into the world.”

 

To view more of Monakhov-Stockton’s work, visit http://www.yolamonakhov.com/#1.

 

- Haley Jordan