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Daniel Dancer: Biography

Buddhists build mandalas to stimulate inner wholeness. Navajos construct sand paintings to encourage physical healing. In a similar sense, Daniel Dancer creates on site, eco-mandalas to help jump-start the healing and restoration of damaged lands. He views his work as both personal and planetary acupuncture. By allowing art to shape itself through the natural unfolding of events and found materials, Dancer works in collaboration with the Earth. Often political, his works are expressions of longing and outrage--ways to declare sacred ground and channel "eco-despair" into action. Once created, his prayer put into form is offered to the wild--left to function by story and example, as medicine for the Earth and ourselves.

Dancer's transformational symbols are metaphors for the human plight and our impact upon the Earth. When shared with others in story and photograph, they become eloquent teaching tools that rekindle our deep connection to wild nature. Eco-mandalas created on a community level are an excellent way to galvanize interest and action on critical, local environmental issues: water pollution, prairie restoration, toxic waste, endangered wetlands, deforestation, etc.

The over-abundance of nature images which flood our society inadvertently pacify us while real nature slips further and further away. Sensitive to this reality, Dancer became strictly an environmental photographer. "A change in our relationship to the Earth is essential and photography can slow or hasten it. The intent of my work is to balance the beauty of nature with the reality of what continually threatens its destruction, and as well, with the art and restorative ways we employ to protect it." Dancer champions a deep photography ethic--a reciprocal relationship where the subject one photographs is honored by some manner of advocacy on its behalf.

Dancer's images have appeared in hundreds of publications worldwide including Newsweek, National Wildlife, Time, Sierra and Utne Reader. He helped pioneer the efforts of Lighthawk (the Environmental Air Force) to document rainforest destruction in Central America. His collaborative show with Earth artist, Stan Herd, "Fields in Focus: Art for the Sky," has been touring the nation since 1988 through Exhibits USA. Dancer's educational exhibit of photographs and "eco-art," "Sacred Ground--Sacred Sky: An Eco-Experience" just finished a five-year national tour through Exhibits USA. He was the lead photographer for two coffee table books released in 1994: Clearcut: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry and Crop Art and Other Earth Works.

For more information on Daniel Dancer and his Zero-Circles project, please visit the Zero-Circles website.

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