Photographers Focus Students on the Environment

"Wander and see the world that is your home," photographer Dan Mead urged students in Chapel Thursday morning.

Mead and his wife, Sally Eagle, do exactly that exploring the planet together and documenting their travels in Antarctica, the Himalayas, Iceland, Namibia, New Zealand and Patagonia, among other places, through photography and video.

They are this school year's first visiting artists, and worked with students in classes today leading up to an evening reception for the exhibit showcasing their photography in the Robert Lehman Art Center: "Environments, Cultures and Wildlife at Risk."

The exhibit (on display through October 8) features the wildlife, landscapes and cultures that the photographers have encountered on the road — fodder for conversation with students about environmental sustainability.

See other exhibits on the schedule for this year at the Robert Lehman Art Center

"We are each the caretakers of the natural world," the Great Barrington, Mass.,-based photographer said in Chapel. "...We have to realize that we are stewards of our environment. We are the ones who have to balance our belief systems so that we give, do and care for as much as we take."

Advocating for environmental protections and national and state park preservation, Mead, an educator-turned psychotherapist proclaimed that, "nothing touches the soul more than being in the wilderness of various continents."

"We hope that the images that surround you in the Lehman gallery will help your eyes to see," he added. "We hope you'll wander the earth with the reverence for life that allows you to appreciate the remaining biodiversity and supports your values of stewardship. As you go out into the world, give as much as you can to protecting the earth, your home."

Following Chapel, the duo continued talking with students as various classes visited the Lehman to discuss the photographers' award-winning work with them. (Eagle's "Ambush in the Pantanal" video was the 2014 winner of the Windland Smith Rice International Award by Nature's Best Photography and later displayed for a year in the Smithsonian National Museum of National History; "Iceberg Art I, II, II" earned her a 2010 semifinal win in BBC Wildlife magazine and London's Natural History Museum's International Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest).

"We are fortunate at Brooks School to not only have the Robert Lehman Gallery on campus but also the support of programming providing access to award-winning, visiting artists," said Director of Robert Lehman Gallery Babs Wheelden, chair of the arts department. "Having time with Dan and Sally, hearing their stories and taking in this impactful collection of stunning images, provides rich and meaningful learning experiences for our students in a tangible, interdisciplinary and purposeful way."

Learn more about the engaging academics at Brooks

Mead and Eagle discussed the environment with an AP Statistics class, then photography composition with the Intro to 2D class. A photography and a third-form history class rounded out their agenda.

"I really like the interdisciplinary aspect that this exhibit gave us," said History Teacher Brittany Fredette (shown above, on right).

In her class, students are studying civilizations as well as the perspective of historians and archaeologists. Talking with photographers, her third-formers had the opportunity to consider the ways in which photographs show the photographer's perspective.

"So as we talk about how are our perspectives different; what makes you approach a situation the way that you would approach it, versus someone else, and then think about sources we use for research, corroborating perspectives, students can think about how reliable a source can be based on the perspective that they take."

This played out with the visiting artists as students asked what Mead's and Eagle's passions are, what drove them to photography, what made them choose to take pictures of specific places and at what angles. "It was cool," said Fredette.

"I asked our class, 'What is your perspective? How does that influence the way that you look at the world?'" she said. "That idea of looking at the world through the lens of a camera got them to think about looking through their own lenses, their own eyes, and how that impacts how we view history and how history is written."

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