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For the Love of Science and Art: Q&A with Artist Connor Stefanison

This fall, Science World is pleased to host an art exhibition by photographer, Connor Stefanison. In 2013, Connor was awarded the BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Eric Hosking Portfolio Award in London, United Kingdom and has also been a speaker for the WildPhotos Conference. Connor was born and raised in BC and his photography is deeply influenced by an appreciation for nature that he developed while fishing, camping and observing wildlife in his home province.

It is always exciting to feature and artist under the dome, since it offers us a unique opportunity to see the ways that science is creative and to talk about how art and science intersect. It was amazing to learn that Connor self identifies less with the labels "artist" or "scientist" and sees himself as more of a conservationist. Can you see how Connor's work might help to support nature and wildlife conservation?

You, Connor, are coming to Science World as an “artist,” do you ever think of yourself as a scientist?

I never really know if I should consider myself an artist or a photographer. I mostly think of myself as a photographer who has some artistic images. In my opinion, not all photographs are art. To make a photograph a piece of art, there must be something special about it. Even though I have a biology degree, I wouldn’t say that I’m a scientist because I am not currently working as a scientist. Rather than a scientist, I would more consider myself a conservationist and someone who documents science.

Where do you think Art and Science align in their ambitions?

Art and science go hand in hand, I think. Scientific literature is often quite difficult for the general public to understand. Humans are very visual creatures. Art forms like photography have the power to easily translate the scientific message through images. Photography is a universal language that everyone understands. Photography and other art forms are very powerful means of promoting and inspiring people to care about conservation and other scientific issues.

Where, in your art work, do you see the science? Is it in motivation? The practice? Or the results? Or all of the above?

I would say all of the above. Lately my motivation and goals for photography have been changing. It used to be that I just wanted to take pretty pictures, but now I also want my photos to tell some sort of story and promote conservation, if possible. Some methods that I use for photography are also somewhat scientific. I’ve been known to be fairly technical with my work. I like to use things like camera traps, remotes and multiple flashes. When photographing wildlife, I always try to show some sort of natural history events. Photography is most powerful when the images are able to tell a story. 

Connor's show, Vancouver’s Wild Neighbours, is on now at TELUS World of Science. To see some of Connor's work, check out his online portfolio. A Meet the Artist event will be announced soon!