It’s been far too long since there have been any posts here at 52 Photographers. I got busy with other things going on, and I had to unintentionally but this blog on hold. But I hope to get caught up and back on track. Look for a few posts each week over the next month or so until then!
Dornith Doherty was given access to several seed banks across the world and, using the on-site x-ray equipment gathers images and then arranges them into collages. She also was able to photograph the facilities where these seeds are preserved.
View more of her Archiving Eden work and so much more over at her website.
Mary Sloane has some interesting work of dilapidated billboards along highways in the American Southwest.
There's something I really love about Mary's aesthetic and the bland, bleak landscapes in which these billboards reside.
Check out more of Mary's work at marycsloane.com
I would be remiss if I didn't include a post about the late Jerry Burchfield here on 52 Photographers. I can only think of two or three other people who have had such a strong and lasting influence on me as an artist.
I first discovered Burchfield in 2005. I was researching presenters for the National Conference of the Society for Photographic Education held in Portland, Oregon. I was in the middle of completing my BFA project, which dealt with public parks. One of the lectures given was about the transformation of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, which closed in 1999, into a park and residential use. Burchfield, Mark Chamberlain and four other photographers embarked on the Legacy Project (you can see the project's website here), photographing and documenting the transformation of the land from air field to public park. My research led me Burchfield's lumen prints, a term he coined. Before then, I (along with the vast majority of the photographic community) was oblivious to the existence of such a thing as a lumen print. At least, as known by that name. The lumen print, which is really a variation of the photogram, has it's roots in the photogenic drawings William Henry Fox Talbot did in the mid-1830's. Anna Atkins followed in Talbot's footsteps, publishing her book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, which is considered to be the first book illustrated by photographs. Then the photogram process (though still not known by that term) became popular in Europe in a post-World War 1 art movement. First Christian Schad, a German, experimented with the process, humbly (note the sarcasm) naming his works Schadographs, then Man Ray made similar images, and named his works Rayographs. Then the Hungarian Laszlo Moholy-Nagy produced his own work, and named the process the Photogram, which is still in use today.
For over 7 years, Burchfield traveled to the Amazon to make his lumen prints on-site, on the deck of a boat. His aim was to "create images that are free of inherent bias and commentary while still expressing ecological concerns by drawing attention to the beauty of the place."
I was stunned at the beauty of Burchfield's images, and even further stunned when I learned how simple the lumen process is, and that the different colors came from black and white photographic materials!
I learned only a few years ago that Burchfield passed away in 2009 from colon cancer, but his legacy still lives on, and his influence on my work is still greatly felt today.
Richard Long has been a strong influence on me as a photographer for about ten years now. His work appeals to me on several levels, among them, the hiker inside me. My favorite pieces of his are any of the lines made by walking. In making these sculptures by walking, he is "echoing the whole history of mankind." Rebecca Solnit devotes some of her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking, a book I highly recommend, to Richard Long's art.
His work is as much performance art as it is anything else. Similarly to Andy Goldsworthy, his work lives in the ephemeral, and were it not for a photographic record, or in other instances, text works, there would be no evidence of Long ever having made his sculpture.
Visit Richard's website to view more work.
"Time is the shape of an old oak as the winds caress and sculpt the bark, defining the hardship and beauty. Time is the trunk that splits apart in great age to accommodate the tempest. Evidence of time is revealed in the furrowed bark of an ancient tree, gnarled, crooked, and beautiful," says Beth Moon in her artist statement for her body of work titled Portraits of Time. Trees are a great subject to use to define time, and Beth's photographs in Portraits of Time are sublime. From ancient Baobab trees that can live to be over 2000 years old (The Panke Baobab in Zimbabwe died in 2011 and was around 2500 years old), to giant oak trees, to towering cedars, these photographs show the majesty and awe of some of the organisms that grow on this planet.
Her body of work, Island of the Dragon's Blood does much the same thing, focusing on the dragon's blood trees (a name given by the scarlet colored resin that flows through them) and other flora of Socotra, an island in the Arabian Sea.
Beth has some really great work, which you can see on her website.
Earlier this year I featured the work of Klea McKenna, who referred me to today's featured artist Miguel Arzabe.
Miguel Arzabe has some really wonderful work made by weaving posters and flyers from various art shows that he attends. It is "informed by the textile tradition of [his] Andean heritage and other indigenous american cultures. Each piece is an archive of cultural output from a specific time and place."
You can see more of Miguel's work on his website.
I just love the digital composites of Maggie Taylor. They’re all so playful and whimsical! Especially her two bodies of work that illustrate Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass.
Here’s a video that provides some great context and behind the scenes looks at her process.
To see more of Maggie’s work, visit her website.
I've long been an admirer of and influenced by the work of collaborative duo James Hajicek and Carol Panaro-Smith. I discovered their photogenic drawing work around 2004-2005 when I was really getting into making Lumen prints.
Their work hearkens back to, and indeed is directly born from William Henry Fox Talbot, the originator of photogenic drawings, the experiments for which began in 1834. He discovered that paper coated with a salt solution, then brushed with silver nitrate turned black when exposed to light, and a final coat of salt halted that darkening. He then made what is essentially a photogram, placing botanical specimens on the sensitized paper, and exposing it to sunlight. Thus, the "photogenic drawing," and one of the first successful photographic processes was born.
Today, James and Carol use variations of Talbot’s early formulas, and create beautiful pieces that are layered, possess depth, and have fantastic textures. I remember being stunned at the colors and textures the first time I saw their work, and those same feelings return each time I look at their work.
Their compositions are so simple and organic, as if they clamped the plants between the glass and paper right where the plants grew out of the dirt.
A paragraph, and specifically the last half of it, of their artist statement for their latest body of work, Arc of Departure, resonates in me, and describes the experience of making this sort of work so much better than I’ve been able to in the past:
“The work evolved in stages from its initial intellectual underpinnings through a focus on the physicality of the remaining organic artifact to the spirituality of experiencing “the awe” of being in the immediate presence of this sacred transformative act - magic in its very essence, ruled by serendipity, elusive mysteries, fugitive images, and the ruling master of all – the ultimate impermanence of everything.”
I've been a fan of Brooks Salzwedel ever since I hear his interview on the Art for Your Ear podcast. He uses graphite, resin, and colored pencils to create scenes of a desolate world.
To me, his work has a vaguely photographic quality. I think I saw his work before I heard the interview and learned about his process, and I first thought they were manipulated or collaged photographs, coated with encaustic wax. But I was wrong, and I think I love his work more for that.
His work has so much depth!
Whimsical is what comes to mind when I look at Charles Petillon's photographs.
He takes bunches of white balloons and arranges and places them in the landscape. These bunches of balloons have the feel of a cloud that has descended to hover just feet above the ground, and the luminance they add to the land is really quite beautiful.
Andrea Dale has some really lovely pieces that she titles Ash Paintings. She gathers ashes from recent wildfires and suspends them in resin, which results in an image that has the appearance of rising smoke and ash and fire. Her work falls right into that category I'm such a fan of: beautiful and yet ugly at the same time. Beautiful, because the Art of the work is beautiful, and/or well crafted, but ugly because of the content. In this case, something had to burn to ash in order for the pieces that Andrea creates to exist. She even mentions this in her artist statement:
Destructive wildfires provide the art material, while the ma, or vast empty vertical space, represent the absence of the ash's original form. The alchemy of transforming this base material into art with an emotional weight and presence, portrays a dance between grace and gravitas. My work lures the viewer in by relying on humanity’s love of beauty, but delivers a statement about the danger of living life in a state of disconnect from nature, the self, and empathy.
Check out more of Andrea's work on her website.
If you like time lapse photography, night photography, and video, you'll enjoy Jeff Frost's work. He even crosses over into Earth Art a bit. I've been looking at Jeff's work for a while mainly through his Instagram feed, but also through his website, and his videos hosted on Vimeo.
Jeff was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work that you can read below:
Would you mind telling me a bit about your background as a photographer?
My background is really as a musician. So I tend to think of photography and contemporary art in terms of rhythm, texture, and mood. The timing of a video edit is as delicate as the fixing I used to have to do to for one of my shitty ex-drummers. If you're getting it right, you're 'in the pocket' in both mediums, and that can come down to mere milliseconds of difference. Time lapse itself is as mechanical and precise as a Roland 808, which can make it difficult to humanize, but also prevents an invigorating challenge.
I never imagined myself being a photographer or a film maker. When I realized the music thing wasn't going to work out, I went to a school that essentially taught me the basics of commercial photography: how to shoot headshots and weddings, studio lighting, product photography, etc. All of which I did as student to scrape by. As I was shooting weddings I'd find my thoughts wandering. I'd make estimates on how long a couple would last before the divorce. Then I'd feel guilty and think, 'Well this can't be healthy.' In class I was rebelling by creating fine art instead of commercial work. The weirder and more complex I could make it, the better. This lead to painting optical illusions in abandoned houses, which I think of as some sort of minimalist-maximalist paradox in motion, and weaved into a non-linear film narrative.
Who are some of your influences as a photographer, and who is your favorite photographer?
My influences are also more towards the music and painting side, but I'll get to a few photographers as well. Musicians who influenced me early on were a lot of the alternative rock stuff like REM, Wire, the Cure, but when I heard Nine Inch Nails "ruining" sounds it really changed how I think. Right now my influences are becoming more abstract on that front: John Cage, Autechre, Aphex Twin, Kim Cascone, Christina Kubisch. All of this filters into how I shoot photography, make soundtracks, and work on sound design.
I love the minimalist painters (Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian, etc), but really I love every era of painting. Classical painters such as Caravaggio and Bosch are examples of wild innovation within their time, and also examples of how to get away with it. I adore Andy Warhol and pop art. Street art has had a huge influence on me as well, and that's where my paintings of abandoned buildings stems from.
For photographers the ones I admire and am influenced by have little to do with my work aesthetically (in most cases). The fearless, tireless, tenacity of Diane Arbus has always blown me away. Richard Avedon honing his portraiture craft to include interactions designed specifically to illicit emotional responses from specific people is an example, for me, of how productive it can be for a photographer to step away from passivity and jump into the thick of things as well as the importance of brilliant planning. Lee Friedlander is one example where you can at least somewhat draw aesthetic parallels. The way he composes and plays with the psychological reaction of the viewer has always had a huge impact on me; same goes for Edward Burtynsky in a much different arena.
I can't say that I have a single favorite. Too hard to choose.
I love when artists make work that is interactive and collaborative with the landscape, and there is a lot of that in Jeff's work, and my favorite examples are found in his Flawed Symmetry of Prediction body of work.
I've been following Alexander Davis on Instagram for a while now, and I've really loved his work.
I asked him a few questions about himself and his photography. You can read about him below:
Would you mind telling me a bit about your background as a photographer? How long have you been making photographs?
My history as a photographer is rather limited, I’m really no expert. Professionally, my background is in advertising and film post-production, commercial music mainly, and my education is in Philosophy and Audio Engineering. I picked up a Fujifilm X100-T in 2015, looking for a new personal creative outlet as music had really become “work" and I needed something else just for me. I was living in New York at the time and would go on long walks around the city, taking photos, experimenting with editing them. I didn’t realize how meditative this practice can be, but it quickly become an important part of my life. Later in 2015 I moved to Los Angeles and had a brief stint working at an editorial/post shop in Santa Monica. Ultimately I had to get out of "the industry" for the sake of my mental health and a desire, at the age of 30, to focus on my own creative work instead of producing other people’s. I spent the next year driving all over California and taking loads of photos, then last summer I felt it was time to get out of the city altogether and moved back home to Colorado. My long-term goal is to have a physical gallery space at some point, transition to medium-format to start producing much larger prints and hand-build the frames. I want to create real things of value for people to put in their homes, keep it local and off the internet as much as possible.
Who are your influences? Who is your favorite photographer?
Oh man, pedestrian opinion maybe but I love Slim Aarons. It’s not what I do at all but I’m a sucker for that 60s jet-set joie de vivre stuff. In terms of inspiration, I’ve always admired the work of cinematographers and colorists since working in post and try to apply those types of grading techniques to my stills. I love everything Roger Deakins ever did, particularly Sicario. The look of that film and the setting are amazing. It’s similar but much more vivid than No Country for Old Men, which is pretty universally loved by photographers. I like to look at a lot of Americana, being a Colorado native, have got some Joel Sternfeld and Bill Owens books around the house. I saw Christopher Williams’ The Production Line of Happiness retrospective in NYC around the time I first started shooting. I think I was really consciously turned on by the look of film for the first time then. Lately I’ve been spending less time browsing Instagram than I used to. There’s so much great work out there, but I feel like I’ve just been looking at too much photography, perhaps feeling overwhelmed with influence and finding it difficult to really connect with people's work due to the cursed algorithm and the nature of the platform itself. On top of that I’ve now lost any desire to go to Iceland. Ever. Truly, though, I have met some absolutely wonderful, immensely talented people through Instagram and I am endlessly appreciative for all the kind words. It’s been amazing to find a place in the community and I do love how enthusiastic many of us are about each other’s work, discussing techniques and locations and just messaging to say hello. That’s been a real joy.
About Against the Modern World, he says:
This series was taken at the end of April in Eldorado Canyon, a small town and state park just south of Boulder, Colorado. It was snowing with dense clouds moving between and around the jagged rocky features of the canyon, subtle spots of light coming through every so often which made for very dramatic atmosphere.
Back in 2008 I wrote about Robert Smithson, and how influential he and his writings were becoming on my art then. Through all that reading I learned about Nancy Holt, who was married to Smithson. I really only remember getting familiar with only one of her works, Sun Tunnels in north-western Utah.
Holt, who passed away in 2014, really was quite a prolific artist. Many of her works no longer exist, due either to their intentional ephemerality, or to their being destroyed, as in the case of her Missoula Ranch Locators (1972), which was destroyed so that the owners of the property could build a home.
Her work was made to be an interactive experience. At Sun Tunnels, the viewer stands in one of four concrete tubes and looks through holes cut into walls that line up with certain constellations. Or, the viewer might look through two tunnels to see the sun rise and set at the winter solstice, or the other two tunnels to see the sun rise and set at the summer solstice. Through this interaction, or participation, Holt views her pieces are fully complete.
I have a strong desire to make people conscious of the cyclical time of the universe
If you feel like making the trek to the Sun Tunnels, you can find some info here: Sun Tunnels info from Utah Museum Fine Arts
And you check out the Sun Tunnels on Google Earth
You can read more about Holt here.
I've been a fan of Joe Rudko for a while now, and I'm real excited to share his work here!
Joe reenvisions other people's memories using torn, or cut found photographs, drawing, and mixed media. The results are quite intriguing, and his imaginations seems to be boundless in the way he rearranges and reinterprets these old photographs.
In the fall of 2016 I felt I needed to seek out other photographers and artists in my area, and either create or join a community of artists that had as a goal to help each other in our creative endeavors. Part of that search lead me to a series of lectures done at Utah State University by artists who came to give a presentation to students about their profession, and how they got to where they are now, and work they've done, etc...
One of those presenters was Bryon Darby.
My biggest take away from his presentation was what he said about making work:
Make work first and figure things out later...Just make! The only sin is not making!
Bryon is an ASU alum, where he studied under one of my favorite photographers, Mark Klett, and his influence shows. Not directly in his work, but more so in his ideas and concepts, and never in a derivative way.
His most recent work is his New Farmers project. It is a collaboration between himself, a sociologist, and designer, and documents a new generation of farmers in the American Mid-West.
Go look at more of Bryon's great photography on his website.