Drawn in Nature | Julia Paull
Opening Thursday, January 23, 7 pm
January 23 - February 13
Drawn in Nature
Julia Paull’s solo exhibition, Drawn in Nature, details a larger body of photographs made in captive breeding programs for critically endangered amphibians in California, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama. The breeding of “wild” animals is something still commonly thought to occur in “natural” environments, rather than an event taking place in an equipped facility, greenhouse, pen, or cage, which is increasingly the case. For many species, so little is known about the conditions that will lead to a species mating in captivity, that as much luck as preparation is required. To succeed in breeding an endangered species therefore becomes a poignant moment, to fail in the attempt, even more so.
Captive breeding programs reflect the remnants of a broken ecosystem; one that could no longer support its indigenous life forms. Paull’s photographs raise questions about quality of life, not just for one species, but for all. There must be an animal to protect to save a habitat and what becomes of a species when it has been saved but its natural habitat is gone? We are increasingly aware that all animals have needs for specific habitat that could be safeguarded through expanded cultivation and conservation efforts, thus reducing the risk of extinction for both flora and fauna. Through her art practice Paull hopes to help foster this potential. Within the scope of her captive breeding photographs are the habitats of the last known captive examples of several amphibians.
In The Sixth Extinction Elizabeth Kolbert writes: “Amphibians are, after all, among the planet’s great survivors. The ancestors of today’s frogs crawled out of the water some 400 million years ago, and by 250 million years ago the earliest representatives of what would become the modern amphibian orders – one includes frogs, and toads, the second newts and salamanders, and the third weird limbless creatures called caecilians – had evolved. This means that amphibians have been around not just longer than mammals, say, or birds; they have been around since before there were dinosaurs.”
Amphibians are considered the gateway species to extinction, having been hit the hardest by extinction first. Amphibians' sensitivity to environmental changes resulted in their consideration as “a canary in the global coal mine" signaling subtle yet radical changes in ecosystems that ultimately may claim many other species, including humans. As we watch Australia burn with an estimated 1 billion animals dead, the impact of the amphibian experience is globally felt. Julia Paull’s choice to photograph amphibians ten years ago reflected an interest in making visible the fragility of species that have the potential to survive via acts of love – through the care of scientists, through cultivation of habitat, through conservation, and through the potential of the species to mate.
This work has been made possible by a University of Southern California Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Grant.
Julia Paull is a grant recipient of a USC Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences Initiative, Documenting the Breeding of Endangered Species (Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Panama, and California) as well as a Durfee Foundation grant recipient for Project 21, a Pictorial History of Kagel Canyon, CA. She was the 2018 Artist in Residence at the Theodore Payne Foundation, as well as a resident at the Hambidge Center, Georgia and a former resident at the Santa Fe Art Institute International Water Rights Residency, New Mexico. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Perfect Mason, Theodore Payne Foundation, Sun Valley, CA, Increasing the Magnitude of a Property, Custom Cabinets, Los Angeles, CA, Double Life, Corridor 2122, Fresno, CA, The Sum of the Sun, Calame Studios Presents, Los Angeles, CA, Drawn in Nature, Santa Fe Art Institute, New Mexico, and In Harm’s Way, Central Booking, NYC. As a gardener Paull grew Site #28 for the seed initiative Wildflowering LA. Julia received a BA from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She is an Associate Professor of teaching in photography at the USC Roski School of Art and Design. juliapaull.com
Gallery will be open Thursday evenings from 7 pm-10 pm through the run of the show.