Shawn Heinrichs’ ‘Light on Shadow’ Delves Deep into Plight of Marine Life at SAC

"Flight of the Humpback Whales" by Shawn Heinrichs
"Flight of the Humpback Whales" by Shawn Heinrichs

Southampton Arts Center’s latest exhibition, Shawn Heinrichs’ Light on Shadow, presents an intimate look at marine life under threat through a series of beautiful and challenging photographs from May 26–July 16.

Heinrich’s images juxtapose the majestic undersea creatures in their habitat with the encroachment of man’s trash and wanton destruction of species for such unnecessary indulgences as folk remedies and shark fin soup.

"Light on Shadow" at Southampton Arts Center
“Light on Shadow,” Courtesy Southampton Arts Center

Curated by Matthew Hockley Smith, the show opens with a free reception and artist talk featuring Heinrichs on Saturday, May 26 from 6–8:30 p.m. All photographs will also be on view during Dan’s Rosé Soirée presented by Porsche on Sunday, May 27 from 5–8 p.m.

A free gallery tour with Heinrichs and Hockley Smith is scheduled for Monday, May 28 at 11 a.m.

“Art is my passion, conservation is my purpose, and for me the two are inseparable. I have found art is the most powerful tool I can contribute to help protect the ocean’s most threatened species and habitats,” Heinrichs says of the work, which takes him undercover to remote corners of the globe, where he captures rare glimpses of the endangered species trade.

"Shark Fin Trade" by Shawn Heinrichs
“Shark Fin Trade” ©Shawn Heinrichs

The main gallery at SAC gives visitors a breathtaking array of imagery showing the lives of these threatened animals—such as the family of humpback whales, including a sweet young calf, in “Flight of the Humpback Whales” (illustrated at top of page)—and exploring the captivating light and shadow playing off the water and its inhabitants.

"10,000 Fins" by Shawn Heinrichs
“10,000 Fins” ©Shawn Heinrichs

Combining these soothing pictures with difficult industrial images featuring thousands upon thousands of amputated fins laid out to dry, the sharks’ bodies cast off as wasteful refuse, or dozens of sea turtles awaiting their death in “Turtle Apocalypse,” delivers a deeply painful and powerful message about the urgent crisis in our seas.

"Turtle Apocalypse" by Shawn Heinrichs
“Turtle Apocalypse” ©Shawn Heinrichs

Heinrichs is an Emmy-award winning cinematographer and co-creator of the much-lauded Racing Extinction documentary (screening at Southampton Arts Center on Friday, June 1 at 6 p.m.), as well as a marine conservationist, activist and the Founder of Blue Sphere Foundation.

His art is fueled by an ardent passion to protect the oceans, and the profound recognition that people only protect what they love.

With his films and exhibitions like Light on Shadow, Heinrichs seeks to change attitudes and hopes his work will inspire people to act before it is too late.

Attend the exhibition opening on Saturday, see it at Dan’s Rosé Soirée on Sunday or experience it during regular viewing hours, Thursday–Monday, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., at Southampton Arts Center (25 Jobs Lane, Southampton). Call 631-283-0967 or visit

"Whale Tale" by Shawn Heinrichs
“Whale Tale” ©Shawn Heinrichs

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