Friday, April 20, 2007


Saint Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park, Texas 1990

Last Wednesday evening I had to speak a few minutes about my current Big Bend landscapes that are part of an exhibition about sense of place and place specific. The show at Emmanuel College in Boston is titled: YOU ARE HERE. There are four artist in the show – Bruce Myren, Shelley Zatsky, Surendra Lawoti and myself – two of which are fresh out of grad school, and one about to enter grad school. These are MFA people, or about to be MFA people. It wasn't their images that struck me so much as how they were not able to talk about their images other than say what they were. Maybe I'm suffering some mis-understanding here, but I thought that graduate school was more about “why” than about the “where” of images. Out of the four, I was the only one that spoke about the passion for what I do, why I photograph the landscape. I sited the Eudora Welty statement about place, about how place “ a definer and confiner of who I am.” And I talked about how photography of the Big Bend at times has been the excuse for just being in the place. How it is a place to which I have connected on a much deeper level than a fun and exciting place to be, but more like a place where I might have lived in another life. It is a place in which I have become intimate, so much so that the place has allowed me to photograph it. Like Barry Lopez said in ARTIC DREAMS, by becoming so in touch with a place that the place will let you know it knows you are there. In other words, through an acquired level of understanding and intimacy, the place allows you to photograph it. It's like you are given permission by the land to make meaningful photographs. My three fellow exhibitors never spoke to their passion for the places in their images, they only talked about what the pictures were. Maybe it is their lack of experience – they were all in their early 20's. More likely, they are like a lot of students, my students, that are afraid to open themselves to others. It was disappointing to hear graduate students in art unwilling to express why their have a passion for what they do. You can see the images I have in the exhibition here.

1 comment:

LKB said...

Bruce and Surendra are about the most passionate photogs I know and would likely explain it better over a beer. I hope now that you have gotten to know Bruce more, you've seen this. You ought to check out Bruce's other more personal series here (be sure to click on the ?):

PS- Surendra and Shelley are in their 30s. Bruce is 42. :)
PPS- Check out my 5 things meme (recent post)

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