Santa Fe New Mexican's Pasatiempo: Monroe Gallery of Photography’s This Fragile Earth
December 29, 2023 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography
December 29, 2023
By Brian Sanford
In one of the more disturbing images in Monroe Gallery of Photography’s This Fragile Earth, a subcontractor for Shell Oil Company takes a break from cleaning up an oil spill at an abandoned well owned by Shell, holding out his hand. At first glance, it appears to be covered in human blood. Further examination reveals it’s actually covered in Earth’s blood: oil. The untitled image was captured by photographer Ed Kashi in 2004.
Equally troubling, but perhaps more resonant to New Mexicans, is Aftermath of Calf Creek/Hermits Peak Wildfire, taken near Mora in 2022 by Santa Fe New Mexican photographer Gabriela Campos. It features a panoramic view of the charred landscape left by the most damaging wildfire in the state’s history.
This Fragile Earth, which runs through January 21, juxtaposes images showing human-caused environmental devastation and the effects of climate change with others that highlight nature’s magnificence. Among the latter are Taos Gorge, taken by Henry Monroe in 2018, and an untitled image showing a giraffe beneath flying storks at Shaba Game Reserve in Kenya, taken by Bill Eppridge in 1978.
The exhibition’s goal is to motivate awareness and change, say gallery owners Michelle and Sid Monroe. It’s supplemented by a virtual exhibition, Stephen Wilkes: This Fragile Earth, Day to Night, showing that photographer’s images of nature’s splendor. Wilkes, of Connecticut, used a technique in the pieces that captures the passage of time from day to night.
Many of Wilkes’ images show details of locations relatively few humans have visited: Churchill, Manitoba, near Hudson Bay; Ilulissat, Greenland; and Chilko Lake, British Columbia. While humans are only visible in one of the images, others feature caribou, wood bison, polar and grizzly bears, zebras, and elephants. Wilkes gave a talk about the images, as well as his documentation of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, at the gallery on November 30. View it at monroegallery.com. — Brian Sandford