Special to the Chronicle
Lauren Webb displays her passion in an artistic statement with her first ever gallery show: “Can’t Be Tamed.” Webb, a junior, connects her speech communications major with her fine arts minor to document the relationship she has with these wild creatures.
A rider since the age of five and competitor on the national level for ten years, Webb photographed this series, nature shots of horses, in Northern Nevada over a span of five months. Mostly shooting on her own, Webb went out into the territory of these beautiful and free-spirited animals with her 35 mm film camera and sheer desire. Webb displays the simplistic beauty of theses horses, considered mustangs.
“[I wanted to] encapsulate the tamed nature of these horses even though they are these large, powerful, wild beast,” said Webb.
The images are powerful and raw. The horses are moving and living as they please, a truly natural documentation of their lives shot in black and white. Yet, within such small frames, one forgets the scale of these beasts and how untamed they truly are. Webb hoped to capture the docile beings in a desolate environment.
“If you look at the photos or observe them yourself, they are really quite calm,” said Webb.
Though the photographer could have done digital prints, the black and white film portrayed the richness of these horses. The prints have a textural aspect: gritty, harder images.
“Each horse has a different personality,” said Webb.
The personalities are visible in the details of the prints, from the ruffled manes and spotted hair to the wet whiskers and deep dark eyes each horse has.
The photographs themselves give a glimpse into the unbridled habits of the horses, which ironically gives the viewers the sense they are approachable, though approaching them would be unwise.
For Webb, the animals did not find her threatening, clearly enjoying her quiet company. However, though she is familiar with horses and does know how to approach and interact with them, she admits that she did put her own safety at risk attempting to photograph their magnificence up close.
This show also demonstrates the fading line between domesticated and wild horses. What the viewer sees are tamed animals, but they are in fact wild and adhering to their own natural instincts. Webb hopes her photography does not exploit the horses, as so many people have already done.
Many horses are round up with food and then brought to slaughter whether it is for glue or dog food or even sold to riders for competition. Hence, her show’s name: “Can’t Be Tamed.” It echoes the nature of these creatures. The photographs convey that not all horses can be hurt by a cruel industry, and not all people wish to exploit them. At some level, they will not be broken or succumb to complete domestication and ownership.
These horses are untamed beasts that will continue to run free as long as they are able to. As for Webb, she will continue to document it for all to see, as long as these creatures allow her to.
Webb hopes to get her masters in photojournalism and continue to display her passions in a documentary style. The show opened February 14th and will be up for viewing until the 15th in the Calkins Student Form Gallery.