Madeleine and Kyle met in upstate New York while conducting research and outreach with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program. Madeleine and Kyle quickly discovered a harmony in their interests and sought collaboration. Although both have degrees in environmental studies/science, they had become disillusioned with mainstream environmental teachings.
With this in mind, the duo began planning a trans-American road trip to dissect these issues. Their objective is to decipher their homeland's sociocultural and environmental landscapes by examining alternative and autonomous lifestyles, outside of cultural norms. Their mutual love of art, infused with an ecological awareness and inquisitiveness, gave birth to The Free Dwellers.
Madeleine was raised under the redwoods of California, just north of San Francisco. Her rural upbringing fueled her reverence for nature. She grew up camping and backpacking, always relishing the opportunity to forego societal comforts and immerse herself in the natural world.
In August 2009, seeking change, Madeleine moved to New York City after spending the summer backpacking through the California wilderness. She arrived at her lower Manhattan dorm room tanned, covered in mosquito bites, with twigs still in her hair. This unusual sequence of events inspired her to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies, gaining a fresh perspective from her urban campus.
Since graduating, Madeleine continues to deepen her understanding of her surroundings. She's particularly intrigued by the links between human psychology and behavior and their interdependence with the natural world, which she interprets through her art. She often uses found objects, both natural and manmade, in her mixed media work.
From a young age Kyle spent many days on the banks of the Mill River near his home in western Massachusetts, often with a fishing rod. Though he doesn’t remember catching much, that unadulterated exploration and adventure established his compassion for the natural world.
Kyle earned a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont. After graduating, he moved to Upstate New York to work with the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program. He was drawn to the program’s work of exploring the reciprocal roles of nature and agriculture. There, with guidance from biologist Conrad Vispo, he developed passions for ecology and photography, focusing on insects. He became enamored with their microcosmic stories, especially those of ants.
Kyle believes environmentalism should be a balance between ecocentric and human-centric needs, a synergy of conservation and sustainability. He's compelled by the links between humans and their natural surroundings. He's intrigued by the origins and evolution of individuals’ environmental perspectives, and how they relate to the nature around them. Through his photographic work, he hopes to share stories about human and non-human ecologies alike.