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"Catherine Chalmers: Prey and Eat"
2001-03-27 until 2001-04-29
University Art Museum, CSU Long Beach
Long Beach, CA, USA United States of America

The University Art Museum premieres Catherine Chalmers: Prey and Eat, which includes selections from two recent series of photographs by New York artist Catherine Chalmers in her first West Coast museum show. The sixteen large-scale works in the exhibition are the result of the artistís long-term project, which involves raising insects and animals in order to recreate the predator-prey encounters that ordinarily take place in the wild, and capturing them on film.

In one series, entitled Food Chain, the images sketch with vivid intimacy, on a stark white background, scenes of a caterpillar eating a tomato, a praying mantis eating a caterpillar, and a frog eating a praying mantis. The result is humorous, surprising, and unsettling. The theme is expanded upon in another series entitled Pinkies (the pet-trade name for baby mice), which conveys the uncomfortable message that mammals are subject to the same immutable laws of nature as are the so-called lower life forms. This series depicts the birth and imminent death of baby mice. Stark, colorful, and arresting, Chalmers's images reinvent natural history for a culture that is increasingly distanced from nature. A fully illustrated book, published by Aperture, which features an essay by Gordon Grice, an interview with the artist, the entire body of images from the exhibition, and more, is available.

Before turning to photography, Catherine Chalmers studied engineering at Stanford University and painting at the Royal College of Art in London. She has had solo exhibitions of her work at P.S.1 in New York City and at the Kunsthalle, Vienna, Austria, and was commissioned by MASS MoCA to create a large body of work for the exhibition Unnatural Science. Chalmers has also participated in group shows worldwide, including the forthcoming Inaugural Exhibition at the new ICA, Taipei, Taiwan.


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