Monday, October 6, 2008
Seeing Double: Reflections of Human/Nature in Banff - Part One
Friday night was my show opening at the Banff Public Library. I don't even remember when I signed up to have the show but it was at least a year ago. When it comes to shows, unless I have written a very detailed proposal in an application, I kind of let them work themselves out. I am always working on several series, so I just kind of let what will ultimately become an exhibit, evolve. I started this series in April of this year. Here is the artist statement for the show:
Seeing Double: Reflections on Human/Nature in Banff
Human/Nature. I seem powerless to exclude these elements from my work. They seem ever present and paramount in each of my most recent series. I like to start creating new work intuitively, letting the pieces come together as they will. Inevitably I come to find myself gravitating toward including these key elements of human and nature, subconsciously. Their connections to my art have only gotten stronger since moving to Banff in 2007.
Another “trend” one can spot in my work is my love of analogue cameras and film, namely Polaroid. My love affair with Polaroid has only deepened since the announcement that they have stopped making film for their cameras. Together with my love of rescuing and recycling obsolete or “useless” objects, expired Polaroid film fuels my creativity because it is unpredictable. My love of photography as a medium grew out of exciting sessions in the darkroom, where my images would “magically” appear in a tray of chemicals. I once had a darkroom in my home but up until recently my nomadic lifestyle required that I abandon it. This is when I began to seriously work with Polaroid film and processes. Next to working in a darkroom, Polaroid is the only way to watch your images “magically” appear. While skill is required, there is also an element of chance. The results can be beyond my control and I love it. Additionally, I appreciate that each Polaroid is a true original, a one-of-a-kind piece in a small format that requires the viewer to get up close and intimate with each one.
This series began with a $5 Polaroid Spectra camera I rescued from a thrift shop. Junk to many, it was a true find for me. The same week, without actively looking I happened to find expired Spectra film. I tested the camera and soon discovered that I could make more than one exposure on the same piece of film. On daily walks with my toddler, the idea for a series, shot entirely in Banff, took root and sprouted. I soon knew exactly what I would focus on; humans and nature. Of course many places combine both, but Banff National Park is unique in the fact that people can reside within its boundaries. Like most National Parks, people come from all over the world, every day, to witness and photograph its beauty. While stunning in its wild beauty, the stamp of humanity is every where you turn. This combination can be both good and bad but I chose not approach this series in a political way. I merely want to highlight the interplay of both, which can make from some striking, at times humorous, at times enlightening, visuals that are both abstract and illustrative in their nature. Here humans and nature are living in harmony, most of the time. I make art to share my perceptions with the world and I hope people are moved by what they perceive in what I present.
Each image is an original Polaroid picture, a one of a kind, mounted and presented in mats cut by my hand. In keeping with my commitment to work with recycled and thrifted materials each piece is framed in refurbished and recycled frames from a past shows. The works in this series are not titled for two reasons. One is so people can try to guess where the images were taken, a treasure hunt of sorts. The other is so people can draw their own conclusions or create their own ideas without my titles telling them what to think.
The opening was well attended. I was almost afraid I would not make it, since at 4 AM, the morning after I hung the show, I woke up with the stomach flu. This was the day before the show. I had to miss work and two classes I was supposed to teach but was all rested up and able to attend. I am going to write another post about who was at the show, what we ate, and that includes more photos... stay tuned!