To some, that bunny-shaped cloud you spot on a cool afternoon might look like a dinosaur, or a giraffe. Someone might just notice their own reflection in a puddle after a rainy day, but someone else might notice the funny way their face wobbles as the wind triggers a few ripples. Artist Gail Snowdon examines just this type of human perception in her Boneyard Arts Festival exhibition, “Nature’s Body.”

buzz: Can you please describe your interest/background in photography?

Gail Snowdon: I’ve made photographs since I was a child, although there were long periods in my life when my camera went unused. My mother is and her father was a photographer. At first, photography was a documentation tool for me – photographing weddings, travel, and events. More recently, it has become an exploration tool to help me learn new stories. Everything has a story.

buzz: How would you describe your artistic style or aesthetic? As an artist, where do you draw your inspiration from – what attracts you to an image that makes you want to photograph it?

A piece featured in "Nature's Body." Photo used with permission by Gail Snowdon.

A piece featured in “Nature’s Body.” Photo used with permission by Gail Snowdon.

GS: Photography, for me is one way of understanding the world. During the moments when I am looking through the lens there is only what is before me. For me, it’s a way to be fully in the moment whether it’s an insect smaller than my thumbnail, a face or a building.

I tend to concentrate on one subject at a time immersing myself in a topic – reading and writing about it as I photograph it. For a few years I photographed insects, consulting guidebooks, auditing an entomology class, and writing essays and stories about insects. An entomologist explained the insect behaviors I photographed.

Another project was people posing in front of the UI Alma Mater statue. People were drawn to it, not just at graduation time but year round. They climbed on the statue, mimicked the pose of the three figures, protested in front of it, and interacted with their fellow subjects. All of it fascinated me. I read the history of the Alma Mater in the UI library archives and looked at the UI yearbooks.

buzz: What are you trying to convey with “Nature’s Body?”

GS: I am fascinated by shapes and by our imagination’s ability to see a dancer in the flames, a heart in clouds, or a face in a rock. The ability allows me to feel an object or place on another level and feel more connection to nature. “Nature’s Body” grew out of an exploration of that connection.

buzz: What do you hope people who examine “Nature’s Body” will take away from it?

GS: I hope the photographs will encourage them to tap their imaginations and have some fun exploring the ways we can experience the world around us, perhaps see new possibilities.

“Nature’s Body” is currently on display at the Anita Purves Nature Center, located at 1505 N. Broadway in Urbana, until April 30.

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