‘OWL SCOUTS’ LOST IN THE WOODS: TODD BAXTER’S PHOTOGRAPHS

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If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you might have come to the realization that nature is not a benevolent force. It looks down upon you with supreme indifference if, for example, you drop your flashlight into a burrow or fall into a cold stream. These are just two things that happen to the boy and girl “Owl Scouts,” subjects of this show. Chicago-based Todd Baxter hired the boy and girl, dressed them in their inventive scout uniforms (the boy’s incorporates a fox pelt) and used digital processes to create many of the scenarios that boy and girl stumble into. To say that these photos are staged is a little like saying Rembrandt or Caravaggio used models. That is, these photos, like the finest paintings, grab you and shake you and almost render any discussion of technique (flawless as it is) pointless. There is a narrative and cinematic force to — as well as an archetypical current running through — these photographs. Everything cumulates in a tragic climax that wouldn’t ring true if there were any hint of irony or shock for shock’s sake.
– Dan Grossman

After studying photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture at the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque Todd Baxter spent two years After studying photography, painting, drawing, and sculpture at the University of New Mexico, in his hometown of Albuquerque Todd Baxter spent two years teaching photography and art in the Albuquerque public school system. A recruiting call from abroad only two years into his teaching career found him traveling to Muscat, Oman where he taught for another two years at the American British Academy and explored the Middle East, Asia and Africa in his free time. Upon his return to the United States in 2002, Todd began freelancing as a designer and art director for many of Chicago’s advertising agencies, eventually working full time as an art director at Cramer Krasselt. It didn’t take long before he had officially started his own business and by 2004 Todd Baxter Photography was in full swing servicing a variety of agencies and editorial clients.

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