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Bird Portraits

November 14, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Bird Portraits by Steve Cagan

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Although birds exhibit no facial expressions, we have a way of attributing states of mind and characteristics to them: they are wise, angry, ferocious, comical. These black-and-white images are attempts at “portraits;” they’re not nature pictures in the usual sense, they are not intended to help with field identification—there are other photographers doing great work in that field. Rather, I hope they will help the viewers relate in a personal and esthetic way to my “subjects.”


Steve Cagan has over thirty-five years’ experience photographing and exhibiting. His major work is in what is called documentary or socially-engaged photography; his avian photography is a by-product of his love of nature and birding.


Major projects have included: “Industrial Hostages,” on factory closings in Ohio; Indochina; Nicaragua; El Salvador (especially about a community that formed in a refugee camp and returned to found a new town); and Cuba (especially about the struggles of working-class people in the harsh economy after the fall of the USSR), and “Working Ohio,” an extended portrait of working people. Current major project, since 2003: “El Chocù, Colombia: Struggle for Cultural and Environmental Survival,” documenting, threatened rain forest area and the special cultures there.

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He has exhibited and published on four continents. He has published reviews and critical writings in a variety of professional journals and books. Major awards include two Fulbright Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and several Ohio Arts Council Fellowships and New Jersey Arts Council Fellowships. He taught in the Visual Arts Department of Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, 1985-1993.

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He is co-author (with his wife Beth) of the book, This Promised Land, El Salvador, which won the 1991 Book of the Year Award of Association for Humanist Sociology. In 1991, he was named “Teacher of the Year” at Rutgers University.

More of his work can be seen at www.stevecagan.com, www.pbase.com/stevecagan, and http://socialdocumentary.net/photographer/stevecagan, among other places.