Frames of View: An Exhibition of Film and Photography
August 20 - September 14, 2018 @ Schumacher Gallery, Middlebury, CT
I have always been inspired by landscape painting and photography, particularly renderings of grand vistas and scenes of natural beauty. Originally inspired by the paintings of acclaimed nineteenth-century Hudson River School founder Thomas Cole, this project started as a look into the journey of the artist, how the artist arrived at a specific location of pure inspiration and perception, and their immersion in this space, embedding themselves to create a work of art. While Cole immersed himself in the locations of his paintings, often doing a number of drawings and studies beforehand, he was also acutely aware of the changing landscape of nineteenth century America, and he focused on ideas of human vs. natural presence in a number of his paintings. While this project still contains these notions, it has shifted focus to the subject of the American West/Southwest, exploring the natural geological movements and collisions that brought about the formation of this historic landscape as well as the unnatural, manufactured movements and collisions evident in the current landscape of the American West/Southwest. I have had an interest in this setting for some time, and embarked on my own immersion into this environment in the Fall of 2016.
The inspiration for the project in its current form comes from the memoir of German geologist Hans Cloos (Conversation with the Earth, 1953), whose lifelong passion was the investigation of the Earth’s crust. Cloos went on a geological pilgrimage to the American West/Southwest in 1927, visiting Utah, California and Arizona. He likened the study of the Earth’s surface and geology to being the “music of the earth.” Edward Abbey, an American conservationist, was aligned with Cloos in expressing similar views about the landscape of the American West/Southwest, but with a more radical bent, in his book Desert Solitaire, 1968. Although several decades separate the works of Cloos and Abbey, my interest and journey westward lie in the juxtaposition of these seemingly different geological philosophers. Filmed in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from 2016-2017, the imagery in this exhibition is emblematic of the movement and collision that fueled the evolution of these landscapes; my individual perceptions of these landscapes became my narrative of the natural world in cinematic and photographic form.
This installation, Frames of View, consists of photographs and three screens of projected imagery exploring these optical collisions as they relate to the landscape of the American West/Southwest. In the projection, the middle screen consists of imagery that I refer to as vistas, or the traditional representations of landscape depicted in paintings and photographs. The left screen consists of imagery that I refer to as natural collisions, or natural movements of the landscape untouched by human activity. And finally, the right screen consists of imagery that I refer to as human collisions, or intrusions of humankind on the natural landscape.