Out With the Old and In with the New - A Time of New Beginnings
As a visual artist, I often find myself questioning the work I do, and over the years I've discovered that if you fail to question your work then you never truly grow with your art because the tendency is become apathetic and to become stagnant. Many times situations in life cause us to effect change in our work and yet at other times, the need to create something very different than the usual is the driving force. Sometimes.... it just happens and we never know for sure why. Such as my new gallery series.
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I recently read an article in GuidePosts magazine written by Clyde Butcher. Butcher, in case you don't know, is considered the "Ansel Adams of the Everglades" because of his work with a large format camera photographing the Florida swamps and other areas of the country.
Butcher and his wife lost their son to a car accident almost 30 years ago and in order to heal, he basically dumped thousands of dollars of prints and years of work and stood by as he watched the bulldozer grind them into the earth and cover them with layers of soil. You can read the article "Healing My Grief" for more details as to why he did what he did. The result of his making the decision to destroy years of work and begin anew was the creation of an entirely new body of work featuring large black and white prints that are collected by people from all over the world.
As I sit here and reflect on that article this cool Sunday morning, I realize that I've done something similar with my work although not because of something as tragic as losing a family member but by losing a part of my life that I dearly miss and will forever. For years I was a portrait and wedding photographer, photographing everything from babies to the elderly and everything in between as well as newspaper and commercial work, from football games to heavy industrial machinery. I still have a lot of the negatives and some prints remaining from that season of my life but they are packed away and most of it hasn't been touched for over 15 years. I doubt most of it will be touched for the next 15 years except to move it around when it gets in my way. I hold on to it because it represents a time in my life that gave me a lot happiness while at the same time causing a certain amount of anguish that goes along with any small business.
After I closed the studio I put down my cameras for 7-8 years and literally didn't touch one except for one year on vacation, and even then the unfinished roll of film stayed in the camera - forgotten - until I discovered it about a year or so ago when I was working to get my old cameras functioning to shoot some film again. I sent the roll to be processed, scanned and printed and when it came back from the lab it was refreshing to feel the negatives and have the aroma of fresh prints stimulate the senses when you first open the package to hold them in your hands.
After I got back into photography in 2006 I made the decision to spend most of my time photographing the world around me and limiting the amount of work with photographing people. In the last couple of years I've noticed my work changing and I'm not sure I totally know why other than I now photograph with "intent" if that makes any sense at all. The word "Intent" is defined as resolved or determined to do something but as an artist I think it means to be more focused as well as determined. That has been my goal the last few months and I've been seeing some dramatic changes in what I do.
I began work on a series of images from the Mississippi Delta a few years ago with the intentions of showing the beauty of what has been described as "the most Southern place on earth" but as I've spent more and more time in the Delta I have begun noticing subtle things that I didn't realize. Things that embody the spirit of this wonderful yet strange part of the world. Not just a place that is filled with objects and things from the past but people that live and work together in an effort to create a better life for themselves. Rich, poor, impoverished and broken, more accurately described as a "dissonant harmony" if that makes any sense.
As I've photographed in the Delta I've found myself with more intent. Much like Butcher seeing another side of the swamp land, I've discovered another side of the Delta that was hiding in plain site. I still want to show the beauty of the Delta but it wasn't until I realized that the beauty is in what has always existed and how it fits with the culture and life of those that inhabit the place.
I am beginning a new series of images that I think exemplify exactly what the Delta is about, whether it be an old church that is no longer used or a photo of the proprietor of Po' Monkey's lounge, Mr. Willie Seaberry. I am calling this my gallery series and the first image is above. Additional images will be added over the next few weeks as they are completed.
Signed prints exactly as you see above are available but without watermark at the lower right. If interested, please contact me via the contact link above.
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