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Beauty of the Sheep

By Megan Parks

Some photograph family. Others focus on sprawling landscapes. Lori Schafer prefers sheep. For nearly five years, she has pursued all things sheep ~ and in the process, her unique photography subjects have caught the attention of the art community.

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But Schafer did not always have eyes for sheep. “I’ve always respected photography, collected artists’ work and taken classes. But I just played with family portraits, landscape and still life subjects,” she shared. “It wasn’t until my interest in issues around agricultural sustainability, CSA farming, food supply preservation, etc. really took off that I naturally began focusing the camera on farm animals, and then almost exclusively on sheep.”

The 47-year-old’s passion for photography is of no surprise for those who knew Schafer from her childhood days in the Hudson Valley of New York. With a mother who was an early childhood specialist and a grandmother who could have put the creators of Better Homes and Gardens to shame, her family laid the foundation for a childhood rich in artistic outlets.

Ten years ago, Schafer traded skyscrapers and working in the art galleries and museums of New York City for a successful career consulting with nonprofits and businesses as a PR writer, media campaign planner and special event developer based in Worcester.

Artistically, she immersed herself in working with fiber, including spinning wool into yarn, dyeing it with natural plant materials, and collecting exotic fleeces from shepherds. Schafer also became an active member of the Wachusett Spinners Guild.

When her growing interest in vegetarianism, the global food crisis and organic agriculture collided with an affinity for wool, photographing sheep seemed the natural next step.

“Photography was initially a way to document my adventures at festivals, visiting farms, and meeting with long-time fiber artists. It didn’t take long to realize how much I enjoyed hanging with the animals in their natural settings, or on display at sheep and wool festivals where I could enjoy close proximity to the calm creatures for extended periods,” said Schafer.
Her sheep photography has appeared in numerous galleries and shows. This spring, one of Schafer’s pieces appeared at ArtsWorcester in the Biennial, and four pieces were in a corporate installation at UNUM. Her camera of choice is the Kodak EasyShare Z650 with “…a good German lens,” she noted. View her work at www.etsy.com/shop/hiyazuka.

Above photo: Blue Faced Leicester Ram Up Close. 2009 26 x 20″ color photograph

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