Update: This photography series continues to evolve and expand. Now called Reverence: Portraits of Natures Mortes, you can see a selection from this work in the Reverence online gallery and via the @humanitouphotography Instagram page. (April 18, 2019)
I’m lighting the fuse on a new photography project. It’s one I’ve had in mind for a day down the line whenever I chose it from the pile of ideas that percolate or idle for weeks, months, years waiting on me to get there.
That day now is known, and it’s coming. Assuming it’s the one I, ultimately, carry forward to the solo show I’m grateful to have coming in April 2020 at Kreuser Gallery in Colorado Springs.
In the mean time, I am processing the particulars of this particular creative process. The test photos shown here in this #showyourwork entry include using a new studio setup that will be maintained at the ready for, at least, the next several months in a corner of my studio/master bedroom. Thankfully, my loving and supportive wife gets it.
Working Title: Found | Story
I collect pieces I come across in nature, things that speak to me in some way while hiking or fly fishing or whatevering. Meditation accompanies those moments of what I call trail yoga. And its in those I am most aware of the world around me.
In that light, maybe I less am finding than I am noticing these gifts of nature. They spark a lyrical flow for me and often have a visual I-don’t-know-what I want to try to capture. This undoubtedly touches off a bout of curious imagining. I see stories and what-ifs in these noticings.
These include details of nature: a rock or piece of wood with something special, a bone, a bird feather. There also are manufactured articles, like handgun and shotgun shells, rusty detritus, a remnant of someone’s moments in that land.
Some of these stories can be explained in scientific terms, the facts of the case. Maybe even specific technical explanations of why and how. Say, the process of how erosion alters wood and rock, how a bird loses a feather, how a camping enthusiast fails to pack out some of the discards of a weekend.
But I am not looking for academic explanations in these pieces I encounter. I most am interested in the endless possibilities, the ones that lie deeper in the heart and imagination of story. The poetry.
These start with inquiry, wonderings: Exactly how did the lateral hairline cracks come to be in the stick that is broken, dried to near weightlessness and worn smooth at its edges? What and who encountered it along the way, playing a role in its condition and placement?
I connect with the possibilities of these stories like we humans can connect with our own. Like people, these inanimate castoffs have been shaped through individual experiences.
More inquiry: Why is that rock split, and so precisely, into two pieces, like asymmetrical hemispheres of a brain? How did a slight bend come to that oddly shaped something of wood — not a branch, not a cut log, not a trunk or root? It wasn’t always like that.
None of these conditions of wabi-sabi were always like that anymore than the gray whiskers in my beard and sideburns have always been there.
The wood with its worn edges and untree-like existence. The rock that wasn’t always severed like disconnected thoughts. The bone that no longer supports an animal’s life. The horn that is broken and splintered.
Life happened in all that. When a tree falls in the woods there is sound, regardless of who is or isn’t there to hear it. Through my lenses of connection, poetry and yoga I hear it no matter how long ago it happened and how absent I was from that place in the moment it occurred. And I contemplate it.
That is what this project is about. Noticing what’s there and taking time to consider it, to value it. Because, we are not different from it. My bones and roots and limbs will come to an end in the earth in some fashion at some time. Who or what will encounter them in time and inquire of my story?
There are stories in all of us, all beings — all matter, for that matter. Not all can speak their stories. Most can’t. Not in a way we comprehend them, anyway.
It’s those mysteries I imagine and am sharing in this project, the knowing of those unknown stories in objects found.