Chattel: A Portrait Study
by Kevin Horan

project STATEMENT

After my move from the city to the country, my new neighbors—sheep—greeted me in a chorus of such different voices that I imagined this was a flock of individuals. Deep experience in making portraits of humans made me wonder if the process could be applied to these creatures.

Treated as customers of the local photo studio, they seem to have personalities. Perhaps they do, and the photographs allow us to see them. Or perhaps the language of the photo causes us to see them as non-human people.

This is a work about portraiture—what it does and how it works. These pictures ask for engagement of our own feelings about the souls within other beings—human or otherwise—and how visible they are from the outside. A successful portrait invites us to enter the umwelt of the subject, to imagine the world as it is experienced by someone else.

These farm species have lived alongside us—and served us—from the earliest times. If we care enough to give our attention in a focused way, the result is beauty and homage—and maybe a little bridge across the species gap. They are worthy of that.

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