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Robin Schwartz: Amelia and the Animals
Text by Amelia Forman.
Amelia is 14 years old. In many ways, she is your average American teenager: since she was three years old, she has been her mother’s muse, and the subject of her photographs. However, not every mom is a world-class photographer with a predilection for photographing animals. And it’s not every teenager who has portraits of herself with elephants, llamas, ponies, tigers, kangaroos, chimpanzees and endless dogs, cats, and other animals--portraits that hang in the collections of major art museums around the world. Amelia and the Animals is Robin Schwartz’s second monograph featuring this collaborative series dedicated to documenting her and Amelia’s adventures among the animals. As Schwartz puts it, “Photography is a means for Amelia to meet animals. Until recently, she took these opportunities for granted. She didn’t realize how unusual her encounters were until everyone started to tell her how lucky she was to meet so many animals.” Nonetheless, these images are more than documents of Amelia and her rapport with animals; they offer a meditation on the nature of interspecies communication and serve as evidence of a shared mother–daughter journey into invented worlds.
Robin Schwartz (born 1957) earned an MFA in photography from Pratt Institute, and her photographs are held in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, in New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Brooklyn Museum; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany. She is an assistant professor of photography at William Paterson University and lives in New Jersey with her husband, Robert Forman, daughter, Amelia, and five companion animals.
"Ricky and Amelia" (2002) is reproduced from Robin Schwartz: Amelia and the Animals.
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Robin Schwartz's images of animals have appeared in museum and galleries around the world, and her daughter Amelia has spent her lifetime among the animals her mother has photographed.
NYmag.com, Science of Us
Both mother and daughter have always felt a strong connection with animals, and that's what Schwartz means to show in her new book, Amelia & the Animals, which will be released next month.
Rickard is following that work up with a new book called "N.A.," where he continues to mine the Internet for views of America that are anything but idyllic. This time, he snatches frame grabs from videos that were made on cell phones and uploaded to YouTube.
The book is not a photojournalistic document — the lack of captions and context asks us to create our own narratives. The printed text in the book includes a poem created using comments from YouTube. And the low resolution of the frame grabs mostly protects the identities of the subjects and gives the visceral imagery an impressionistic gloss.
When potrait photographer Robin Schwartz took her 3-year-old daughter to the circus, she never expected the toddler to fall in love. But once Amelia met a baby chimp named Ricky, "the two of them could not stop hugging," says Schwartz who captured the mutual affection with her camera. That encounter inspired Schwartz to continue photographing the ways her daughter now 15, bonds with animals. The pair have become creative partners, dreaming up whimsical sweet potraits with all kinds of furry friends: Amelia leading the way for six llamas, curling up among kangaroos, cuddling with a camel, sitting next to a wallaby at a kitchen table. The 12-year project is now a book, Amelia and the Animals. "We try to create a world where there is no line between humans and animals," says Schwartz.
If you buy only one thing this month, make it Robin Schwartz’s new book, Amelia and the Animals. The images of her growing daughter with animals big and small is a powerful meditation on fantasy and reality in the natural world.
On a lighter note, Amelia and the Animals is a delightful collection of photographs by American photographer Robin Schwartz. It depicts her daughter Amelia communing with a variety of species ranging from bald sphinx like cats to the more exotic tiger cub. There seems nothing unusual in seeing Amelia perched in an elephant’s trunk or seemingly in conversation with a group of kangaroos. She is nature’s child and seems relaxed with her animal companions. Schwartz photographs are otherworldly, artfully composed and Amelia’s quiet, wistful expression and abundance of hair feel almost PreRaphaelite.
FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 12/14/2014
In her introduction to Amelia and the Animals, photographer Robin Schwartz's daughter and muse, Amelia Forman, writes, "I’m a girl named after a capuchin monkey. She was the first monkey I was ever photographed with, when I was two. Maybe she sparked my love for nonhuman primates, which has led to unimaginable experiences for a city kid. It seems like something out of a fairy tale—a girl with an affinity for the animals that surround her. But that is the story in the photos. Behind the fairy tales are the real, amazing, tame animals that I have gotten to know." Featured image, "Pete" (2006) is reproduced from Robin Schwartz: Amelia and the Animals, one of our top Holiday Gift Books of 2014. continue to blog