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Photographs catch dogs in action

Jeff Burkhart, professor of biology, and Al Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs, discuss Michael Crouser’s “Dog Run” exhibit April 26 in the Carlson Gallery. Burkhart contributed an essay titled “Musings on Dog Run” regarding the emotional connection between dogs interacting with other dogs, as well as the connection between dogs and humans. / photo by Mitchell Aleman

Brian Velez
Staff Writer

Tongues covered in dirt, bulging eyes, neck biting, howling at the sky: these are some moments captured by Michael Crouser in his photography exhibit “Dog Run” in the Carlson Gallery.

Though the subject of the show is dogs, “Dog Run” is not an exhibit of cute puppies found in a calendar, or the type that await you in an email from an aunt who recently learned how to use the Internet.

“Dog Run” contains select images from Crouser’s 2008 book of the same name containing raw canine interaction often seen but seldom captured on film.

“Dogs left to their own devices are funny, fun to watch and hilarious,” Crouser said.

“Dog Run” represents images of dogs socializing and playing with each other the way only dogs do.

Crouser took the pictures in two locations, Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis and Tompkins Square Park in New York City.

“In Minnesota people asked if I needed the proper spelling of their dog’s name. In New York, people were asking why I was even taking pictures of their dogs,” Crouser said.

During his project, Crouser captured fleetings moments in the lives of dogs that are unusual and to some even scary.

“I was not looking forward to seeing these pictures, it’s varied and frightening but he’s done a good job of finding great shots of canines,” Al Clark, associate vice president of academic affairs, said.

Some of the pictures in the exhibit can indeed be eerie. “Dog Run No. 114” is of two dogs, staring at each other, revealing their individual white teeth while only separated by a chain link fence.

While some images are reminiscent of the horror film “Cujo,” others are comical.

“Dog Run No. 74” frames a white dog looking at the camera with a facial expression resembling a human smile, making the viewer suspect it was created in Photoshop. But is in fact natural.

“These are timeless photographs; the one with the white dog smiling is my favorite,” sophomore photography major Katherine Careaga said.

Gary Colby, professor of photography, asked Professor of Biology Jeffery Burkhart and professor of Spanish Ann Hills to write reflection papers about the exhibit.

“These are not foofy dogs,” Hills said. “There’s no intent to make the dogs look human.”

Hills was specifically asked to contribute a paper because of her experience with border collie show dogs over the past 15 years.

“Dog Run” is not an exhibit to be judged with a single glance because the concept behind the images should be understood.

“The photographs should not be seen individually and out of context,” Hills said. “The photographer’s statement should be read before or while viewing the photographs.”

“Dog Run” will run through May 11 in the Carlson Gallery, located on the ground floor of Miller Hall.

Brian Velez can be reached at brian.velez@laverne.edu.

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