Meet the Maker: Lisa Miller of The Foal Project
A preoccupation with the end of life motivates so much of what we do that we too infrequently marvel at its beginning.
Lisa Miller, a New York-educated and based photographer, became interested in capturing those first few moments on earth. In the winter of 2010, a friend mentioned to Lisa that she had two pregnant thoroughbreds in her upstate New York barn. Lisa recalled, "Even though the idea of hanging out in a cold barn in the middle of winter didn't thrill me, the idea of being present during these births did; I knew very little about horses and even less about the birth process, but for some reason I was really excited about being a part of it."
Lisa settled into the horse farm's barn and snapped away, somewhat at random, as the horses labored. After developing her images, Lisa sifted through the prints and discovered documentation of the instant when the mare and the foal first connected. She still remembers the excitement of that revelation: "It was electric how the images just jumped off the screen and hit me like a lightning bolt between the eyes! I knew I had to do something with these photographs."
And thus, as the result of so many other births, The Foal Project itself was born. Since that first session six years ago, Lisa has photographed more than 50 New York thoroughbred foalings. The medium of Lisa’s signature aluminum prints are not only practical — they are weatherproof and regularly decorate the porches of Saratoga Springs’ many inns — they also emphasize the mare-foal connection in dramatic fashion. And as a mother of three sons, Lisa recognizes the overlaps: “It’s all so similar, the bonding and the connection. Mare to foal, parent to child. It’s all about the connection.”
Lisa knew she wanted to make charitable contributions using her photographs but wasn’t sure of the outlet. She recalled that she “just put it out to the universe. Then, all of a sudden, all of this information was crossing my path about equine assisted therapies, and, in particular, when a horse is used to help a U.S. veteran, that was very near and dear to my heart.” She expanded her equine repertoire to include images of equine assisted therapies, which connects people with all types of disabilities, including autism and PTSD, to therapy horses. "The energetic moment of connection between a mare and her foal is similar to the connection shared between a human and the therapy horse. I have witnessed firsthand how the horse can serve people in such an amazing capacity," Lisa observed.
Lisa means what she says and donates a portion of the proceeds from her Saratoga Springs gallery to a variety of 501(c)(3) equine charities that connect horses and humans for purposes of therapy. Even as Lisa’s photos change from image to image, “the message is always the same,” she explains, “It's about connection, and it's about love.” With each and every purchase of these aluminum prints, available on NewYorkMakers.com, you, too, will contribute to supporting some incredible causes in an industry that defines the way of life for so many New Yorkers.
Lisa’s New York State of Mind: “Connection...we are all connected.”