National Geographic “Day to Night” Exhibit Comes to JacksonMay 22, 2019
An obsession with science, a love for photography, and a lot of patience has enabled National Geographic photographer Stephen Wilkes to create a stunning photography exhibit titled Day to Night: In the Field with Stephen Wilkes, on display at the National Museum of Wildlife Art May 24 – August 18, 2019.
Generally speaking, photography is a way to record time – specifically, freezing one moment in time. But Mr. Wilkes warps time in his work, crafting each Day to Night picture by shooting up to 2,000 images from a fixed camera angle continuously for up to 36 hours. He then selects approximately 50 of these images and blends them into a final photograph that seamlessly captures one location as it transitions from day to night.
Mr. Wilkes’s love of science, and specifically microscopes, is evident in his Day to Night compositions. By combining select moments that occurred throughout the day, he displays hundreds of tiny stories that viewers could have only enjoyed previously by looking at each photograph individually.
And that’s part of the allure.
Mr. Wilkes notes that in society today, we are increasingly connected to our devices, believing they connect us to the world, when, in reality, we are more disconnected than ever. The intricate detail of these mega-prints encourages people to linger, look slowly, and notice the details. There is so much packed into a single print – each measuring roughly 7 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
Mr. Wilkes’s idea of collapsing time in a photograph began in 1996 when LIFE magazine commissioned a panoramic photograph of the cast and crew of Romeo and Juliet. A panorama was difficult to create, as the room was square. To get an interesting composition, he took 250 smaller photographs and then manually glued them together to create one huge image. In the center of the image, Clare Daines and Leonardo DiCaprio are looking at each other, but to shoot their reflection in a nearby mirror, Mr. Wilkes asked them to kiss. Presenting these two different moments in one image made Mr. Wilkes realize he could use photography to warp time. Years later, technology caught up with Mr. Wilkes, and he can now digitally blend moments and time to create the final image.
The avian-themed Day to Night series was formed while Mr. Wilkes was on assignment for a National Geographic article in 2017 documenting bird migrations. The exhibition features four bird species – Black-browed Albatrosses in the Falkland Islands; Northern Gannets on Bass Rock, off the coast of Scotland; Sandhill Cranes on Nebraska’s Platte River; and Lesser Flamingos on Kenya’s Lake Bogoria.
Mr. Wilkes hopes this exhibition “will inspire everyone (but especially young people) to want to learn more about birds. The old adage about the canary in the coal mine is true. If we study and protect birds, they, in turn, can protect and inform us in ways that we are only just beginning to understand.”
On exhibiting at the Museum, Mr. Wilkes says, “It’s indeed a special honor for me to exhibit my Day to Night series in the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The museum is known for not only its exemplary collection of wildlife art and sculpture, but its unified community, its educational outreach in telling the most important stories of wildlife in America through the magic of art.”
Mr. Wilkes will be in Jackson to give a public presentation at the National Museum of Wildlife Art for Mix’d Media on Thursday, June 27 at 6 p.m.
“The exhibits from National Geographic that we’ve hosted in the past have always been enthusiastically received. These exhibitions help us investigate aspects of humanity’s relationship with nature in new and intriguing ways that surprise and educate our guests,” says Museum Curator, Dr. Adam Harris.
Day to Night: In the Field with Stephen Wilkes is generously sponsored by: Anonymous, Mary Anne Cree in Honor of Elaine and David Myers, Charlotte Stifel, Marnie Peterson-Coin & Tasso Coin, Halloran Farkas + Kittila LLP., Jade & David Walsh, The Lightner Sams Foundation of Wyoming Inc., McCrea Foundation, and Jan & Bob Benz.
Photograph by Stephen Wilkes, Sandhill Cranes, Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska.
Stephen Wilkes in the Field. Photograph by Lenny Christopher.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art, a nonprofit founded in 1987, is a world-class art museum holding more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world. Featuring work by prominent artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Robert Kuhn, John James Audubon, and Carl Rungius, the Museum’s unsurpassed permanent collection chronicles much of the history of wildlife in art, from 2500 B.C. to the present. Built into a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge, the Museum received the designation “National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States” by order of Congress in 2008. Boasting a Museum shop, interactive children’s gallery, Palate restaurant, and outdoor sculpture trail, the Museum is only two-and-a-half miles north of Jackson Town Square, and two miles from the gateway of Grand Teton National Park. www.WildlifeArt.org
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