Growing up in New York City, my exposure to animals was limited. But I was fascinated by the dioramas in the Museum of Natural History. There, the science and art of taxidermies, combined with props and painted backgrounds, allowed me to see animals in a manner that would have been otherwise impossible; it fueled my curiosity about animals to no end.
Cleared and stained specimens are equally captivating to me. Small mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians are soaked in a solution that renders tissue transparent and stains are used to make bones and cartilage stand out. This allows their interior structure to be visible, giving us a window into a world that is beautiful, elegant and complex. It serves as a point of departure for my imagination.
Stephen Petegorsky is an artist and freelance photographer. Born in New York City, he has lived in western Massachusetts for more than 40 years. He graduated from Amherst College, and later received an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design.
His work has been exhibited internationally and is in collections throughout the United States, as well as in Europe. He has taught at Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College and the University of Connecticut, and currently works as a freelance photographer specializing in photography of artworks.
He has been interested in animals – alive, dead, and taxidermies – for as long as he can remember.