Lands In the Public Trust

The National Parks occupy a tangential space in the American psyche.   They are occluded by narratives of unprecedented fires, disappearing water and mismanagement.  They are under budget and under-staffed and despite public idealization they are not considered a voter concern in elections.  They have become places to flee to in a  pandemic world, but an uneducated stream of visitors tramples the fragile ecosystems preserved for us the people. The impacts on National Parks from governmental neglect, overuse, resource  extraction, wildfire and environmental degradation have made them vulnerable in  ways they have never been before. 

My photographs celebrate the beauty of the natural world,  but they also chronicle how humans debilitate the man-made structures created  for  their enjoyment and the biology of plants, animals, lakes and rivers and  forests meant to bring them harmony.  My recent focus has been on the spectacle of the burnt forest as a harbinger of a  new natural landscape that bears echoes of the sublime.  As climate change continues to evolve thesehaunted  landscapes will increase in number and will stand as a visual symbol of what  mankind has done to the planet.

Tree Rings-Keepers of Time

The Keepers of Time, is a photographic study of tree rings from the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research (LTRR), at the University of Arizona, Tucson.  These archeological remnants are central to disciplines that span biology, archaeology, aesthetics, climate reconstruction, wildfire recovery and environmental studies.  The LTRR’s multi-taxon collection is an irreplaceable source of biological and human information that includes a record of the oldest trees in the world. The images in The Keepers of Time, also document the transformation of tree specimens into objects of study: embedded with artifacts of research: scientific notations, bits of tape, wads of cotton and strands of string, new identities accumulated in their lives as dendrological subjects.

Making these photographs, and living with them over time has allowed me to engage in magical thinking about the hidden lives of objects, combining the scientific facts they provide, the personal narratives they invoke, and the historical and cultural associations they engender.

Through my camera’s lens, I discover the messages held within these specimens, and through my photographs, I relay these messages as the pictures tell their stories.

Chasing The West

Chasing the West is work made while traveling across the country and to the West on summer pilgrimages from the Midwest.  Stuck in the landlocked featureless state of Iowa it was a comfort for me that my home still existed in all its natural beauty. I camped in my 1964 Airstream from National Park to State Park and felt like I was almost catching up with what I missed so far.  Of course, climate change and population growth on the west coast have wreaked havoc on the natural world in my absence.  These images are the gems on found along the way.

I have thought about how to use the physical form of the photograph in a historic manner and using a Horseman SW612 Panoramic camera, in addition to the 4x5 Linhof, offer a homage to the Western expedition photographers and a nod to the many amateurs I have recently encountered on the highway, using the “stitch”mode of their Kodak or Panasonic digital cameras to capture the full expanse of the natural world as they see it.  

Inventory of My Mother’s House

Inventory of My Mother’s House, 1994, is an installation of images of the objects that filled my parents' house.  As a group these photographs reflect both their willingness to consume the abundant products that symbolize the good life, as well as the facility with which these objects slide into obsolescence, a treasure trove of postindustrial kitsch. These images also testify that mass production has created an effluvium of products with either little or questionable value--things for their own sake--objects whose functions are emotional rather than physical, mantles of collectibles and Franklin Furnace statuary that stand for the"authentic."

In many ways my parents' house was a true postmodern space.  Organic and unintentional, its evolution from necessity to ornament mirrored both their economic status and the robust health of an insatiable economy inclined toward the production of trifles my parents worked to consume.  The walls of their house displayed all eras and styles, all represented with equal weight, nothing was more important than anything else, and so nothing could be, or ever was, thrown away.  This collection of discardables, impossible to discard, decorated my childhood.

 Each object, and the collection of photographic images of them, are infused with memories of rooms constantly and continually redecorated, and a home long ago abandoned.  That my parents steadfastly refused to part with their vast collection makes me wonder if these objects are incantations of their past; or if anything can be resurrected given the proper time, place and medium.  As for my process of cataloging, each room and its use were encoded with the hierarchy of gendered domesticity.  While the house belonged to my parents, and certain objects were my father's, the collection was orchestrated by my mother. Together they create a narrative that moves beyond the discretion of one nuclear family, encompassing the post war America utopia.