In her series "Housebroken," Minneapolis art photographer Areca Roe explores unusual pets and their surroundings. Why, she wondered, would a person choose a snake or a hedgehog instead of the companionable and cuddly dog or cat?

“Even though I love animals,” she says, “I didn’t understand why you would want to own one [of these strange pets]. I had a curiosity about why, and what the relationship actually is. Maybe what the animals get out of the relationship, too, other than food or shelter.”

A recurrent theme in Roe's work is the interface between the natural and human domains, using photography, video, sculpture and installation. She received an MFA in studio arts from the University of Minnesota.

In the process of photographing these unusual pets, Roe found that “most of the owners were very in tune with what their animals needed, which was comforting. I expected to find mostly dude[s] who wanted to own a snake to seem cool. But all of the owners were fascinated and knowledgeable about their creatures.”She also found that many owners create new habitats for their animals that might be invisible to even the neighbors next door.

“You would walk into a house, and most of the time, you have no idea how many animals are there,” she says. “A few of them had many strange animals, with basements that are totally tricked out with heat lamps and tanks. You would never know until you went into their basement and found, say, a giant pan full of turtles.”

While shooting the Housebroken series, Roe found Finnian and Blue. “Blue, the young chicken, hopped on the couch. I was kind of stalking him with my camera. I really liked the way he blended in with the couch so beautifully. He was almost the same color and a similar texture,” she explains.

There were also four Angoran rabbits in the house, including Finnian. “I was photographing him on the couch and there were some My Little Ponies by the couch, so I set them up on the couch as a visual counterpoint. … There is a kinship of the poofiness of his ears to the My Little Pony pompadour and tail.”

After photographing for about three years, Roe turned her images into a book that shows everything from spiders to sugar gliders in their environments.She is working on a new series, which also has some animalistic elements. In "O Pioneer," Roe re-shoots historical photographs using fake fur to evoke both recognition and dissonance.

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