Colleen’s work reveals, without flinching, the disconnect between people and animals in contemporary culture. While looking across the entire sequence of images, my conclusion is that this disconnect is harmful to all parties. I think that the Whitman poem is apt, because it suggests that there is a lot to be learned from animals and the way that they live their lives. Unfortunately, animals are now reduced to food, entertainment, and other novelties. They are “outside today” means, for me at least, that they are outside our scope of everyday life. I don’t have to worry about a bear eating me on my way to work.
What I love about Colleen’s work is the beauty of the image that often frames such a powerful, or a delicate, sadness. Her work makes me feel — not always what I want to feel — but it makes me feel nonetheless about the ways in which we disregard, don’t notice or are disconnected from animals and from nature, and how we substitute look-alikes because perhaps we yearn for the real thing but a replica is the best we can do. I really appreciate that her work isn’t sentimental in its approach, which seems to be another way we depict and prefer to see the natural world.