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Car on Fire, Route 17, New York, from the "Domesticated" series, from the 29 x 29 Portfolio by the graduates of the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Program at the School of Visual Arts

  • Accession Number:
  • Artist:
    Stein, Amy
  • Date:
  • Medium:
    Inkjet print
  • Dimensions:
    image: 11 in x 13 3/4 in; paper: 13 in x 19 in
  • Credit Line:
    Gift of John MacMahon and Richard Anderman


About the Photographer

Stein, Amy

American, b. 1970

Western culture has a paradoxical relationship with the natural world. Our history can be told as the story of trying to tame the wilderness — and our more animal instincts — but the desire to preserve nature and develop a personal connection with it continue to be cultural ideals. Amy Stein examines these conflicting impulses in her series Domesticated (2006), a set of stylized depictions of interactions between people and wildlife, resembling stills from a feature film or natural history dioramas. Setting her photographs in a small town in Pennsylvania at the border of a state forest, Stein recreates actual scenarios that she gathers from newspaper reports and personal stories. Presenting a variety of scenes, the photographs in the series speak to, as Stein remarks, "the primal issues of comfort and fear, dependence and determination, submission and dominance that play out in the physical and psychological encounters between man and the natural world."

Many of Stein's photographs center on the unexpected appearance of an animal at the edges of human development, where these creatures take on the character of an intruder or voyeur. In Watering Hole (2007), for instance, Stein captures the tense face-off of a young girl at a swimming pool and a towering black bear, positioning her camera just outside the chain-link fence. The composition of the photograph emphasizes both the fencing's role as a protective barrier and the fragility of the divide between the domestic setting and what lies outside.

Amy Stein was initially trained as a political scientist, receiving a BS from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virgina (1992), and an MS from the University of Edinburg, Scotland (1995). She completed an MFA in Photography at the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2006. Since 2007, Stein has been a member of the faculty at Parsons the New School for Design, New York.