‘Spineless’… sea creatures like you’ve never seen ’em before, at IMA

A portrait of the a Stubby Squid (Rossia Pacifica) is one of the many provocative photographs of creatures of the deep by Susan Middleton

Her photographs appear in permanent collections at the National Gallery of Art and at the National Academy of Sciences.

Her images have spawned book projects that in turn have led to exhibitions across the globe and an assortment of film productions, including the 1998 Emmy award-winning MiddletonNational Geographic film “America’s Endangered Species: Don’t Say Goodbye,” on which she served as associate producer. She’s the recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship award and her works have graced covers of National Geographic, Smithsonian, Life Magazine and more.

And, she’s got the best darn close-up one could ever hope to see of the giant squid that makes its home in the Salish Sea.

Beginning Saturday, May 23, San Juan Islands Museum of Art will showcase the work of
wildlife photographer extraordinaire Susan Middleton in an exhibit entitled, “Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, the Backbone of Life.”

The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 21, features many of the mesmerizing, provocative, almost other-worldly images contained in Middleton’s latest book by the same name.

Here’s what Dana Jennings has to say about “Spineless” in a book review for the New York Times:“…the book writhes, oozes and creeps with the salty invertebrates Ms. Middleton got acquainted with. Her intense, often color-saturated photographs pulse with spellbinding strangeness: squids, jellies and nudibranchs; whelks, bloodworms and drupes; conches, urchins and chitons.”


Born and raised in Seattle, Middleton now makes her home in the Bay Area. But she is no stranger to San Juan Island. In fact, it’s one of three locations where the celebrated shutterbug spent seven years in the field and below the surface of the seas in order to capture and bring to lifecrab the images contained within the 256 pages of “Spineless” (the French Frigate Shoals of Hawaii and Line Island of the Central Pacific are the other two).

As a special treat, Middleton will be at IMA for a “meet-and-greet” and to talk about the exhibit June 19, at 6 p.m.

IMA is open Thursdays-Mondays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; admission is free.