By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries
PULLMAN, Wash. – While her husband was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, three years ago, Heather Wiegmann photographed a Japanese white-eye, or mejiro, amid the first cherry blossoms of spring.
“When looking up into the trees, it isn’t uncommon to see tiny birds flitting around and lapping up nectar,” said Wiegmann, a 2011 graduate of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Mejiro are sociable birds that don’t sit still for long and are a challenge to photograph well.”
The bird and other animals of Japan will be part of Wiegmann’s photographic exhibit that opens Wednesday, Aug. 10, in the WSU Animal Health Library and runs through December. An opening reception is planned 4-6 p.m. Aug. 10 in the library, Wegner Hall 170.
The twice-yearly “Art in the Library” exhibit features animal-themed works, typically from artists with a connection to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information, visit http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/news/art.
Military assignment to Japan
Wiegmann has followed her husband Blake, an Air Force pilot, since graduating from WSU. (Also a Coug, he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2010). The couple moved to Okinawa in 2013, where Wiegmann worked at a veterinary clinic on the base.
“We loved living in Japan and traveled as much as my husband’s schedule would allow,” she said.
On most of these excursions, Wiegmann found her eye drawn not to the location, but to the animals – often overlooked but always in the background. For this exhibit, she includes interesting details of the places and species she encountered in Japan.
“There is more to remember about a location than just the view,” she said. “These pictures are my way to show people that there are things in the world that they have never really thought about or looked at closely, and I hope that makes them want to help conserve them.”
Street deer and Hiroshima raven
One of Wiegmann’s photos, “Out for a Stroll,” shows a deer in the middle of a downtown street on the small island of Miyajima, just off the coast of Hiroshima.
“As iconic as the island’s temples are, it is also known for the deer that call it home,” she said. “The deer are considered sacred and wander the streets freely. They have little fear of tourists and will often approach people looking for food.”
Wiegmann also photographed a raven perched on the burned out Genbaku Domu, the only structure left standing after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.
“This building was directly under the explosion of the atomic bomb,” she said. “What remains was reinforced to prevent collapse and has been dedicated as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.”
Wiegmann and her husband recently returned to the states and are in Oklahoma. But her roots will always bring her back to Washington: she grew up 60 miles north of Pullman in the small farming town of Spangle and studied zoology at WSU.
She is no stranger to the “Art in the Library” exhibit, either: she was selected as the featured artist in 2010 while a third-year veterinary student.
A member of the WSU Raptor Club, she began photographing the club’s birds to help with fundraising. She also entered photos in campus contests. In the WSU Outdoor Recreation Center’s annual contest, “Sunning,” won best in show in 2007 and “Two of a Kind” was people’s choice in 2008.