Capturing the Essence of Nature

on May 6, 2004 for Queens Canvas

Queen's Canvas 5-06-04

Inspired by nature, photographer, author and environmentalist Holly Gordon loves to seize it on film and yet leaves it untouched by her presence. Capturing the perfect shot gives her the kind of rush that she imagines big game hunters must feel when they make a kill. Her prey, however, flies, scurries or slithers away, having been robbed of nothing.

The Rockaway Artists Alliance will be hosting her unique traveling exhibit, Galapagos: Face to Face, which celebrates nature’s determination to endure through both harshness and wonder, through May 23 at the Studio 6 Gallery.

“Oh, the Galapagos – just uttering its name conjures up mystery and awe,” said Gordon. “Creatures have no fear of humans because they have adapted and thrived (so far) in an environment free of large mammal predators. Visitors can merge into their turf and observe them, naturally and intimately.”

Gordon’s photographs have been widely exhibited at venues such as the New York Hall of Science, the American Museum of Natural History, the Greenwich Audobon Center and the Sweetbriar Nature Center. She travels extensively for her photos, to Costa Rica for butterflies, the Falkland Islands, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, Easter Island and the Galapagos, but never neglects the beauty she finds in her own back yard.

Michael H. Jackson, the award-winning author of “Galapagos – A Natural History Guide,” has said of the exhibit, “Holly captures the essence of the Galapagos Islands with each click of her camera. Much more than simple record shots of nature, her exhibition of intimate wildlife portraits will dazzle your eyes and tug at your heart. You will likely find yourself wanting to make Galapagos your next travel destination and your personal conservation responsibility.”

Galapagos is an intimate look at the unique world of a land untouched by the influence of destructive human hands, where sleeping sea lions laze on beaches, with sand like raw sugar. Crabs scuttle aside while baby sea turtles hatch in broad daylight, struggling to reach the ocean before being devoured by ravenous frigatebirds.

They are the same islands whereupon Charles Darwin landed in 1835 to gather the material that ultimately rocked the foundation of conventional thinking and led to today’s widely accepted theory of evolution. There, nature’s plans of birth and death have played themselves out, uninterrupted by human rhythms, for thousands of years.

“The Galapagos landscape is out of this world while being of this world,” said Gordon. “Reptiles look like monsters from a sci-fi movie, but they are incredibly real. This is still planet earth and the story of their evolution is amazing.”

Gordon, who earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from the State University College at Buffalo and a Master’s degree in Art Education from New York University, has photographed these islands on three separate journeys and craves to return when each visit is over. In a passage from her essay, “Galapagos,” she writes, “More than any place on earth, I am visually and emotionally overwhelmed by the Galapagos Islands.”

In her photo essay, “My Camera and Eye,” she states, “My camera is an integral part of me – an extension of my mind, heart, eye, a part of my past, present and future. It is the synthesis of my love affair with life.”

Gordon has contributed to Newsday’s “Our Natural World” and has been published by the Charles Darwin Foundation. Interest and demand for Gordon’s art is growing. The American Museum of Natural History recently ordered her NatureNote butterfly note cards for its gift shop and the Darwin Foundation continues to regularly publish her Galapagos photographs.