Phil Underdown: The Trapper's Lament

Sol Mednick Gallery

When a colony of beavers established itself along the small, crooked creek that winds through his property in New York's Adirondack Park, photographer Phil Underdown reluctantly decided to call in a trapper. In "The Trapper's Lament," Underdown uses large-format color photographs to depict the aftermath, chronicling what was left behind after the beavers were removed in an attempt to come to terms with the apparent clash between his decision and his environmental values.

Underdown writes, "We watched, over the course of a few years, as a colony of beavers made its way down the creek that winds through our neighbor’s field before meandering across ours. Eventually they dammed up the creek in five or six spots and started felling the trees, with the big tall aspens being their favorite. One night, we heard a tree fall outside our bedroom window and we started to feel like they had us surrounded. Soon access to the fields would be blocked and the septic system flooded. It became clear that we would have to do something."

"These are photographs of the aftermath of our decision to remove the beavers and break their dams. Compelled to photograph it repeatedly over the intervening seasons, I have observed as some small details linger on over the years, while other large features disappear seemingly overnight. I moved to the Adirondacks because of my love of nature and I try to live my life with respect and concern for the future of our planet. I recycle, I drive a Prius, I give money to environmental organizations...and I kill beavers. This is the landscape of that confusion, the trapper's lament."

Underdown has an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and a BA in Photography from Hampshire College. His work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Samual Dorsky Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and was recently featured in Earth Now! at the New Mexico Museum of Art, as well as in a book of the same name. His book, Grassland, was named one of the best photo books of 2010 by photo-eye magazine in Santa Fe.

The Sol Mednick Gallery offers a year-round regular schedule of exhibitions of contemporary photography. This exhibition is concurrent with "Susan Hayre: Querencia: Flood" in Gallery 1401 (the Sol Mednick Gallery's sister space) on the 14th floor of Terra Hall. Both galleries are operated by the UArts Photography program.

Terra Hall
211 South Broad Street, 15th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States

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