Vespers by Ron Cowie

Specimens from the Cornell School Of Veterinary Science Anatomy Lab

Dr. Howard Evans is one of the most interesting people you will ever have the pleasure to meet. He is the professor Emeritus for the Cornell Veterinary School's Anatomy lab. He has written several textbooks that are considered, well, the textbook for dog anatomy and the like. He also oversees the Anatomy lab. To say that it is a little overwhelming it to speak the truth. 

One July, he gave my daughter and other family members a tour of the lab. He loves to teach and share his enthusiasm. When I saw the collection, I was a kid again. Not only did we get to see all the specimens, he also told me how to preserve certain items. What can I say, I'm into that kind of stuff. 

I couldn't resist asking if I could come back and start make pictures of the items. He said "Sure, why not?" That's how Vespers began; with childlike curiosity and love for the natural world.

Being in the presence of so many animal parts, some of their energy started to transmit through the lens. Without getting all hocus-pocus, I felt the presence of life in these bones. It was joyful and poignant at the same time

The title "Vespers" means "Evening Prayer" or simply "Evening". I had a great deal of reverence for the bones and bodies in this lab. The physical act of preparing the bodies for display takes weeks of painstaking, thoughtful work.

I'm interested in what is eternal. I wanted to honor the animals and the effort that went into preserving them. It would be simple to just photograph the bones and bottles with as curiosity or fetish. There is too much of that going on these days for my taste. 

My goal is to make a book of these images and to support the mission of those who want to dedicate their lives to helping animals in this capacity.