Photos bridge gap between humans, animals


Zachery Gartner’s photography exhibit “Human” challenges perspectives on the human body through the use of animal masks and non-traditional poses.

A woman wearing a lion's mask is one of photographer Zachery Gartner's favorites because it challenges the viewer.
A woman wearing a lion’s mask is one of photographer Zachery Gartner’s favorites because it challenges the viewer.

It features nude models posing in animals masks.  The exhibit was intended to “focus on lines, details, and forms of the human body,” according to Gartner.  Gartner’s work was exhibited in the Exit Gallery in the Montana State University Strand Union Building.

Gartner said the focus of the photographs is not to be suggestive images, but instead to highlight the curves and traits of each of the six subjects. The subjects are both male and female. The subjects were photographed in black and white to feature the bodies without distraction, Gartner said.

“It’s interesting to view both genders of the human body in a non-sexual way,” he said.

Hannah Safford, who runs the Exit Gallery, said that Garner’s “understanding of composition and creative balance is astounding.”

The masks depict animals ranging from mouse to pig to zebra.  According to Gartner, the use of animal masks is to sever the connection between the subject and the viewers.  They break the eye contact that would be present if the masks were gone.  This allows the viewers to focus objectively on the subject and the form of the human body and not feel a personal connection with them, he said.

The masks also allow the subject greater comfort by leaving them somewhat anonymous and allow them to take on different postures and positions, Gartner said.  A contorted woman in a lion’s mask is a favorite of Gartner’s as it challenges the viewer’s perspective. The viewer must take time to figure out that the subject in the mask is actually doing an upside down crab walk, he said.

The masks were also featured in the exhibit and visitors to a Jan. 22 reception in the SUB were invited to try on a mask and view themselves in the mirror made available to them.

Gartner also does African wildlife photography, now featured at Zocalo Coffee House on Main Street.

For prints and to see his works, Gartner can be reached through his website

– Edited by Jacqueline Blackwood


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