Artist's Statement: Nature Photographs
Vast canyons and towering mountains are glorious, but just as glorious to me are the patterns made by water dripping down the face of a rock, by lichen growing on a rock, and even the patterns within the very rock, put there by the amazing processes through which rock is created. When I am outdoors my eye is drawn to these subtle details of nature, and photography is my way of recording what I have seen so that I can share it with others.
I especially enjoy finding nearly abstract patterns in nature that, like an abstract painting, allow our eye to find order, flow and movement in apparent chaos. To me such patterns allow us to see and appreciate nature on a different level.
As an artist I have long been drawn to natural patterns and processes. In college and graduate school I studied ceramic sculpture, an art medium closely tied to the land since the materials come out of the earth. My thesis project for my masters at Cranbrook Academy of Art involved a sculpture in and over a small stream. The sculpture was designed to interact with and reveal the erosional processes of the flowing water. As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University I also took a variety of classes in geology. This experience led me to more consciously incorporate geological ideas into my artwork.
However, college was not my first exposure to geology and natural science. My father is a geologist and both of my parents love the outdoors, so I was introduced to the outdoors and to looking thoughtfully at the land around me at an early age. I have been fortunate to go to many wonderful places, from Alaska to Utah to southern Africa to western Greenland. In all of these places my camera has helped me see the land more clearly, and record for others what I have seen.
I use a variety of cameras to make my photographs, but my two favorite cameras are a Hasselblad 503CW medium format camera and a Nikon F3 35mm camera. I use traditional slide and black & white film to make all of my photographs because I like the image quality I get from film.
Artist's Statement: Silhouette Series
I think of this work as "static dance." This is a bit of an oxymoron since movement is a central element of dance, but what photography can do that dance cannot is freeze a moment in time and allow us to contemplate it. I love the expressive potential of movement in dance, but I also love slowing things down and thinking about the expressive potential of a single position. Since I am most interested in the overall form created by the human body, I make silhouettes, with just a little detail inside the outline to provide a sense of depth and enhance the form.
Like the ancient Greeks, I see the male body as beautiful in its own right, but in my photographs I try to move beyond a simple celebration of the body and capture a sense of emotion in my images. Life, for me, is often rather mysterious and even puzzling at times. At one moment, struggle might mingle with hope and a touch of sadness to create a complex mix of feelings, and an hour later everything might have changed. This is what makes life rich, but also what makes it challenging. I hope my photographs capture at least a little of this richness and challenge.
I primarily use myself as the model because an important part of my process is exploring the positions I can take on with my own body. I am the dancer in an improvisational dance, rather than just an observer providing feedback to a model and occasionally snapping the shutter.
The camera I used for making these photographs is a Hasselblad 503CW medium format camera, loaded with traditional black and white print film. Since I cannot trigger the shutter directly when I am in the picture, I fabricated a mechanism that allows me to trigger a timer connected to the camera's shutter, once I am in position in front of the camera.