Grounded for Life 

The Ellen Curlee Gallery (1308-A Washington Avenue; or 314-504-3852) presents Grounded: Photography and Our Contemporary Environment, an international exhibition that focuses on the relationship between humans and the natural world. There's a strong concentration here on the increasingly fraught aspects of that relationship, as evidenced in a photograph by Isabelle Hayeur, which shows the jarring disconnect between the minutely photographed layers of earth that occupy the photo's foreground, and the rows and rows of tract housing that sit, icing-like, in the blurry distance. Though the two worlds physically collide, Hayeur's photographs show how little they have in common. The photographs of Jenny Kendler, by contrast, tackle our need to anthropomorphize the natural world, remaking it in our own cozy image. In one standout photo, Kendler has arranged for a ruddy-cheeked, platinum-haired beauty to sleep in the loving embrace of a gigantic polar bear. In the distance, a backdrop featuring craggy snow-covered peaks, a quartet of fighter planes emits a rainbow-hued vapor trail. Other photographers have approached the show's theme, developed in partnership with the St. Louis Earth Day Organization, by way of decomposition and our cultural aversion to decay, as when John Pfahl photographs decomposing fruits and vegetables against a pristine white background. Grounded opens with a free public reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 14. The work remains up through Saturday, May 10, and the gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: March 14. Continues through May 17, 2008

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