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Exploring City Creatures: Panel Discussion

  • David Weinberg Gallery 300 W Superior St #203 Chicago, IL 60654 (map)

We usually think of cities as the domain of humans—but we are just one of thousands of species that call the urban landscape home. Published this fall, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness introduces readers to an astonishing diversity of urban wildlife with a unique and accessible mix of essays, poetry, paintings, and photographs.

Join Gavin Van Horn, co-editor of City Creatures, photographer Colleen Plumb and ecologist Liam Heneghan for a moderated discussion about what draws them to urban nature, what sorts of surprises they've experienced by examining human-animal relationships in the city, and how art can invite us into the lives of other creatures, from our backyards to the bioregion.  

As the Director of Cultures of Conservation, Gavin is developing and directing a series of interdisciplinary projects relevant to the resilience and restoration of human and natural communities in the Chicagoland region. His work focuses particularly on how place-based values are developed and strengthened in dialogue with local landscapes. Gavin received a B.A. from Pepperdine University, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from the University of Florida, with a specialization in Religion and Nature. He continues to explore cultural perceptions of wildlife; place-based ethics; endangered species recovery, ethics, and policy; and the values involved in ecological restoration projects, community gardening, and wildlife management.  

Colleen Plumb's photographic work centers upon examining the human ambivalence towards animals, and the contradictory, often absurd, sometimes tender ways they are woven through the fabric of American culture. Our connection with animals is often developed through assimilation and appropriation, and reveals kinship as well as disjuncture. Plumb's focus for the past fifteen years has been an inquiry into a society whose appetite for animals, whether in flesh or in reproduction, with admiration or obsession, is voracious. Radius Books published her first monograph, Animals Are Outside Today, a 2011 PDN Notable Book. 

Liam Heneghan is an ecosystem ecologist working at DePaul University, where he is a professor of Environmental Science and co-director of DePaul University’s Institute for Nature and Culture. His research has included studies on the impact of acid rain on soil foodwebs in Europe, and inter-biome comparisons of decomposition and nutrient dynamics in forested ecosystems in North America and the tropics. Over the past decade, Heneghan and his students have been working on restoration issues in midwestern ecosystems. Heneghan is co-chair of the Chicago Wilderness Science Team. He is also a graduate student in philosophy and an occasional poet.

This event part of the programming calendar for Field Study, a juried exhibition for the Filter Photo Festival in support of non-profit organizations Openlands & Center for Humans and Nature.