Amelia is fourteen years old. In many ways, she is your average American teenager: since she was three years old, she has been her mother’s muse and the subject of her photographs. However, not every mom is a world-class photographer with a predilection for photographing animals. And it’s not every teenager who has portraits of herself with elephants, llamas, ponies, tigers, kangaroos, chimpanzees, and endless dogs, cats, and other animals—portraits that hang in the collections of major art museums around the world. Amelia and the Animals is Robin Schwartz’s second monograph featuring this collaborative photographic series dedicated to documenting her and Amelia’s adventures among the animals. As Schwartz puts it, “Photography is a means for Amelia to meet animals. Until recently, she took these opportunities for granted. She didn’t realize how unusual her encounters were until everyone started to tell her how lucky she was to meet so many animals.” Nonetheless, these images are more than documents of Amelia and her rapport with animals; they offer a meditation on the nature of interspecies communication and serve as evidence of a shared mother-daughter journey into invented worlds, of fables they enact together. Schwartz concludes, “Photography gives us the opportunity to access our dreams, to discover the extraordinary.”
Robin Schwartz (born in Passaic, New Jersey, 1957) earned an MFA in photography from Pratt Institute, and her photographs are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, both New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Brooklyn Museum; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany. She is an assistant professor of photography at William Paterson University and lives in New Jersey with her husband, Robert Forman, daughter, Amelia, and five com¬panion animals.
Amelia Paul Forman (foreward) is a high schooler, animal lover, and aspiring biologist. She writes, draws, photographs, and travels.
Donna Gustafson (essay) is the Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, and a member of the graduate faculty in art history. Her recent exhibitions include Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture, Lalla Essaydi: Les Femmes du Maroc, and at/around/beyond: