A Mother-Daughter Menagerie

The Photo Blog
May 1 2013 12:02 PM

A Mother-Daughter Menagerie

Paris Greyhound Hair
Paris Greyhound Hair

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Many mothers take their children to the zoo. Photographer Robin Schwartz took it a step further and brought the zoo to life by photographing her daughter, Amelia, in a lifelong series of intimate, fantastical portraits with animals.

Many of the images of Amelia with dogs, cats, monkeys, kangaroos, elephants, and other animals were included in the monograph, Amelia’s World, published by Aperture in 2008. Since then, Robin and Amelia have continued to add to the series.

Schwartz began taking pictures with her daughter when her mother passed away when Amelia was 3.

Advertisement

“I was always a daughter first even though I had a little kid,” Schwartz said about her relationship with her mother. “I was always a daughter until my mother died, and then I wasn’t. I didn’t want to be separated from Amelia.”

Rosie Still Likes Breath
Rosie Still Likes Breath

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Flying Hannah
Flying Hannah

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Depressed after her mother’s death, she and Amelia hung out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and it was a memory from eighth-grade Spanish of a Diego Velázquez painting, Las Meninas (currently in the Prado in Madrid), that helped inspire Schwartz to pick up a camera and take a shot of Amelia and their dog Nora.

Already known for her work as an “animal photographer,” Schwartz had published a collection of images in 1993 titled Like Us: Primate Portraits, a series of black-and-white images of animals in whimsical, perfectly composed human-like situations.

“I was born an animal lover,” Schwartz said. “I am discerning, but I’m comfortable with animals. I think people can be … nuts, scary, and cruel to each other and to animals. With my projects, though, I meet the best people, the ones who take a chance with me and my daughter; I barter for access, and I am so grateful for their generosity.”

Reach
Reach

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Peep Eats
Peep Eats

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Breakfast Talk
Breakfast Talk

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Schwartz has been teaching photography since 1985 at William Paterson University, where she is currently a tenured assistant professor in photography. She said working on the project with her daughter has been a nice way to spend time with Amelia.

 "I want to do things with her. I work all day, I come home, and I’m really tired. This is a thing we do together,” Schwartz said. “She’s brave, she doesn’t think about it, with animals she doesn’t work at it, she’s calm, but she’s not animal-centric like I am."

Schwartz is unsure how long they will continue to work on the project. Life and art—especially when animals and people are involved—can be a precarious thing.

"Things only last a certain amount of time,” Schwartz said. “With animals you sort of know that, but I didn’t understand there would be such a change (with Amelia) … I didn’t understand hormones."

Some of Schwartz’s work is currently on view through June 16 at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, part of the Photography Now 2013 show juried by Kira Pollack.

Tash (l) Raz
Tash (left); Raz

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Great Dane
Great Dane

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Nifty Likes Amelia
Nifty Likes Amelia

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

Llamas Follow
Llamas Follow

Robin Schwartz/Clampart Gallery

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.