Lee Deigaard is an artist from New Orleans and rural Georgia. Responding to spontaneous voluntary interactions with generous, curious animal collaborators, her work explores multi-species empathy and animal cognition and personality. She has shown and presented her work nationally and internationally and was a 2017-18 Artist-in-Residence at the Joan Mitchell Center. Her work has appeared in Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture , National Geographic’s blog PROOF , Lenscratch, Oxford American , and as part of Format International in the UK and was featured in Pride of Place at the New Orleans Museum of Art. She is also a curator and writer and occasional professor.
The series Near and Far explores intimacy and longing, companionate mirroring, and pair bonding. To know another, whether horse or person, is a mix of empathy and nearness, vertigo and vast horizons. Species delineations are barriers but also protections to central identities and senses of self. To be close takes respect of difference as much as the draw of affinity, affection. The dance between horses, between humans, between humans and horses, involves presumption (a form of cognitive empathy) and empathy (a form of trespass, an act of hope, a move for connection). The flight response of prey animals-like horses to humans-mirrors fear of
intimacy: being alive to touch, prone to startle or flee.
Boundaries—between earth and sky, between species, between bodies also exist between incursion and permission, coercion and compliance, between inside and out. Boundaries both approach and recede, can appear ambiguous.
The body is a landscape. One body in connection with another body is a relationship. The feeling of close connection in an intimate relationship also carries a sense of deep strangeness and far places. The horizon– that place of possibility– when pursued as a destination always eludes us.
Where bodies are and who they are within the landscape can define the parameters of a relationship from formal to intimate. To touch another carries a charge- whether of
transgression or connection. These photographs are never posed or arranged but pursued incidentally, as byproducts of following the horse’s lead; they are therefore shaped by his proprioception and awareness of my body as I am of his.
Astrophel, pigment print on panel, 2016
detail, Blue Yonder [cloud mountain/vapor trail], 2019
detail, Blue Yonder [crater/in the clouds ii], 2019
installation detail, Moons Revolve, Moons Adore, 10 ft x 10 ft, fabric and conduit pipe, dye sublimated prints on aluminum, 2018
installation detail, Moons Revolve, Moons Adore, pigment print on vinyl, 10 ftx 10 ft, dye-sublimated print on aluminum, 40″ diameter, 2018