Janna Fulbright is a photographer and radio show host based in Texas.
In a message dated 97-10-15 12:57:20 EDT, you write: << you did send the resume and i used it on your author page. but an artists' statement would be more personal. no rush! >> Thank god! Here's the goods (such as they are), and on time, too. Feel free to edit at will. It seems long to me, but it's sort of vague and undisciplined as manifestoes go. I wrote this about four years ago. Its naivete shocks me now, but I find it quaint: Work in Progress: "Hunters and Healers" "One of the main problems of mythology is reconciling the mind to this brutal precondition of all life, which lives by the killing and eating of lives...don't kid yourself by eating only vegetables, because they too are alive. So the essence of life is this eating of itself!" ~~~~Joseph Campbell As a child, I was surrounded by animals. My father was a hunter, and he brought home animals of all kinds: squrrels, rabbits, duck, javelina. He is also a nurse--a profession that, when I was growing up in the 70s, was genrally considered a "women-only" profession. Women, according to conventional wisdom, were better-suited to the hands-on aspects of healing. The brain-work was left for the male doctors. My father, stocky and well-muscled, was and still is an excellent nurse. His profession and his hobbies had a profound effect on me as a child. In my father and later in myself, the seemingly incongruous ideas of hunting and healing went hand-in-hand. At five, I was undisturbed by films of surgery. My parents explained the films as if they were essential to my education. "There," my father would say to my sister and I, gesturing at our TV screen with his dinner fork, "that's an aorta". Hunting was an anatomy lesson. As I wathced my father clean game, he would ask, "What's this?" holding up fish eggs or a heart with his knife. It was my task to guess. It was a game. An example: My family bought an aquarium. However, we didn't have ordinary tropical fish. We had a bass that my father had brought home from a fishing trip. The bass was later joined by two black baby catfish. Neither of these two species (as far as I know) are able to survive on tropical fish food, so every evening after work, Dad would catch minnows and small fish in a cast-net in the ditch behind our house to feed to the fish. Our evenings were often spent watchng the food chain play out in our living room. I remember eating bass while watching our nameless, pampered fish swim around in the tank, eating the minnows Dad had caught. One night, the bass got over-enthused about his own meal and jumped straight out of his tank and into the kitchen, flopping onto the linoleum. We eventually lost our fish. We decided to take a trip, and oddly enough, none of my parents' friends seems too eager to care for our bass. Dad mad ethe decision to return him to the "wild". Guessing that the fish wouldn't survive in a wholly wild environment, my father finally settled on a man-made pond in a nearby park. He told us that he had set the fish in the pond and watched to see how he reacted to his new home. As he watched, the fish turned around to face him...and stayed there. My father walked to the left--the fish followed. To the right--the fish followed. Dad said that for as long as he stood there looking at his pet, it stared back. He never could explain that incident. Did it spring from simple conditioning? Genuine attachment? I am not sure. I do know that we tend to set a higher value on the lives and responses of animals closer to us on the evolutionary ladder. But, my father taught me that maybe I could love a bass as well as I could a puppy. Perhaps the reverse holds true. Perhaps a bass could love a human as much as a puppy does. Perhaps not. Another example: My father went goose hunting. He brought back three geese and one live goose in a cage. The caged goose bore no bullet wounds, no pellet marks. His head drooped, his feathers were dull. He didn't honk or flap or protest in any way. He was ill. Dad said that he had been posioned by eating lead shot left by other hunters, and it was his job to nurse it back to health. The goose lingered in our garage for days, much to the consternation of our cats. We ate goose for dinner, and then headed out to see what we could do for the goose in the garage. Dad fed him, tended him, and made the goose comfortable before the bird died. Dad buried him in the vegetable garden with the words, "You do all you can, but sometimes, things just die". I was told in church that God said we had "dominion" over the plants and animals on the earth. I heard later, on public television, that the word was not "dominion", but "stewardship". That was the value of my upbringing: to understand that brutality and benevolece are sides of the same coin, and that both were essential to the functioning of the planet. I was taught that it is impossible to separate what you eat or displace from its environment from yourself. No one can live without consuming another's life. Further, we as humans could not survive if we did not care for one another as healers. As an adult and a photographer, I am exploring those principles I was taught as a child. I want to photographs animals and humans and processes that we overlook because they are not important, or because they are unsavory to our sense of beauty. Adults lose that sense of wonder and curiosity associated with the natural world, in all its untidiness. I am a parent now, and am pleased and truly amazed that when most adults would refuse to wear a necklace I made of minnows, my daughter considers it a privilege. This is the same little girl who sobs when our cat eats a lizard. She understands the necessity of the brutality, but cannont help but feel sympathy for the victim and amazement at the awsomeness of the process. Like her, I find beauty in stitches, lizards, false teeth, snakes, worms--those things that can be of monumental significance to a child. The very things we overlook are those things which make us that we are as human beings--both hunters and healers. << it's perfect. i'll run it as is. >>Gallery Representation:
Boy/Bird (80 K)