A to Z — 26 Black and White Photographs
Authenticity and trust are at the center of making this work. In this way I can respond to what occurs — whatever is speaking to me or through me. There is often an instant when the outer world of noise disappears and I know something is resonating, sparking intuition fully to life — a living connection between Earth and artist opens. It is sustenance and it is humbling. While in the creating phase, this state of mind must be nurtured, protected and kept a secret from probing intellects — even my own inquiring mind. Simply put, I practice a tender meditation suggested to me by the natural world. (Making the work is far more natural than writing about it.)
My central thesis came after shooting and editing for six years. I knew on some level that I was working with the healing of symbols and transformation. But while working on the film, “Earth’s Voices” movie, I realized the dialogue was also about opening to the truth. I mean to say that symbols and their shapes and significance are derived from Mother Earth herself, from the strength and shape of the land and from our experience of energy surges between sky and earth. We experienced the land and her message as Sacred, we learned everything from her like children. After seeing my movie, two people helped me with that view, both anthropology and archeology experts who specialize in the origin of humans and the origin of the symbols of written language. (The appearance of some symbols in some places make it impossible to say those cultures met and shared cultural development, so…)
My A to Z photographic series “Earth’s Voices” reminds me that when the spoken word was full of power, we were also full of natural power; words were indistinct from the energies of the things named, and we were not separate from our wild nature or limited by it.
In making this work there were quiet and profound moments, glimpses of near perfection, some recorded and some not. And I am engaged in further exploration of the letters, learning in this next year how to create the photogravure prints for small numbered limited editions.
Most of the letters were built in a four-foot by four-foot sandbox. A few were constructed on large 50-year old cement tiles. I made photographs of the sculptures at various stages using a medium format camera shooting film. In their construction sand was a basic element that I applied like paint with a brush or shaped with my hands or tools. Other major elements were stone, branches, root and bone. I created spatial layers, putting items on top of each other. This layering technique was sculptural, creating mysterious planes with shadow play, but it also exploited the limits of the focal plane for effect. Because of this the images are a clear departure from traditional still life photography and display an aesthetic more akin to painting or lithographic prints. The sculptures were lit by sun in the fall, the light coming through the leaves and branches of the trees blowing in the wind. The rain also had a say in composition when the sandbox was left open to the sky. No Photoshop software was used to create this work except at the digital printing stage. (These days I am using digital tools.) The current gallery prints are image area 20″ x 20″ and 26″ x 26″.