Twenty-five years ago I traveled freely throughout the Mexican countryside where I relished a warm, welcoming, and slow-paced style of living. I was heartened by the physical beauty of the landscape and the simple, pure lifestyles shared by both the Hispanic and indigenous people of Mexico. A sense of spirituality and magic were imbedded in their religious practices, crafts, art, dance, and literature. Recently, I returned to Mexico where I experienced a country teetering on the brink of change created by increasing political and economic challenges, and exacerbated by the trappings of global consumerism. The Mexican people appeared handcuffed by demands largely outside of their control and threatened by the potential loss of their cultural richness.
Sensing that little time remains to photograph the beauty of Mexico, I have created the series "Dreaming In Reverse" to express both my concern for cultural loss, as well as my appreciation for the inherent loveliness of Mexican life. Employing magic realism, an art genre used in the early twentieth century in Mexico, I have attempted to create images of Mexico which seem true and believable, but also perhaps improbable. These photomontages illustrate my dreams for the Mexican people that they are able to retain the authenticity of their culture.
Renaissance artists affirmed the transformational nature of light in their classical paintings. Taddeo Gaddi and Giotto di Bondone of the Renaissance period painted breathtaking frescoes in which light created dramatic effects. Artists, such as these masters, inspired me to create photomontages that highlight the aesthetic power of light. Following recent travels in Italy, I was awed by the metaphysical nature of Tuscan light. The unique light accentuated the brilliance of the Renaissance artistic and architectural masterpieces. I came away with the understanding that light exposes possibilities and opens the mind to seeing things differently. Illumination, a series of photomontages, illustrates stories about personal beliefs and seeing things in a different light.
Marwari: Indigenous Spirits
In my eyes horses represent that which is beautiful and sacred in nature. In particular, the noble Marwari horses from India have captured my attention. Known for their loyalty and bravery, the Marwari were considered divine beings as far back as the twelfth century. Victimized by difficult economic times, poor horse management, and global warming, the Marwari horse population was decimated by the mid-1990’s.
With my photography I present imaginary moments with the Marwari to create unspoken stories about these once mistreated creatures. The Marwari horse series illustrates both the struggle for survival and the hope for prosperity among children and animals who are both innocent and often the victims of exploitation.
The animal kingdom and mankind engage in an ongoing dance of co-existence which results in a predictable tension. This tension has escalated with man's increasing disregard for the fragility of the environment and abdication of his responsibility to care for the earth. One particular issue is global warming which has had a significant impact on all living things. Climate changes will minimally upset and perhaps ultimately destroy ecosystems. I feel strongly that the cumulative impact of negative environmental changes cannot be ignored.
Having grown up on a Pennsylvania farm, I am inspired by Andrew Wyeth's rural landscapes, characterized by subtle, but powerful emotion. I hope to strike a similar emotional connection in the viewer by illustrating a disturbed ecosytem created by man's self-serving interests. These photomontages are composed of animals, children and adults, all of whom are potential victims and at risk.
Rite of Passage
With time, adolescents begin to abandon the natural, untamed state of childhood for the artificial pretenses of adulthood. After my own daughter's arrival at the complexities of her sixteenth milestone, this juxtaposition captured my attention.
In composing a variety of stark, woodland settings in contrast with a billowy dress or other man-made articles, I explore the dichotomy between what is natural and what is fabricated. Why do people costumed in formal dress seem so omnipotent on the street, yet so vulnerable in the wild? Each of these photomontages explores a place where unexpected circumstances collide.
During a trip to Mexico I was intrigued by small traditional paintings called ex votos. Ex votos are Mexican folk art paintings often created on tin, copper or wood. They illustrate an occasion when in response to a prayer for help or guidance, the prayer was answered or a miracle occurred. These miracle paintings honor the power and mercy of the saints. Ex votos subjects range from common daily occurrences to truly dramatic events.
Through digital photography I have taken a different approach to the ex votos art form. Normally photography is a method of documentation or a means of recording specific physical moments in time. My work is not used to document, but to illustrate photographically the fleeting moods that can't be captured by a traditional camera or seen by the naked eye. With photomontage, I create ex votos that also honor a deity â€“ the one for imagination.
I was raised on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a religiously conservative part of the country and home for many Amish and Mennonite farmers. Unlike others in my community, my family had a liberal view on things and many of my family members were artists. At age 18 I joined the Navy out of a desire to leave Lancaster, and was immediately sent to Vietnam. Three more years in the Navy took me to 22 different countries.
After my military discharge I spent five years hitchhiking around the U.S. and Canada, as well as working the family farm with my four brothers. Later I graduated from The Ringling School of Art and Design In Florida and eventually moved to Virginia, where I found work as a graphic designer. I began experimenting with my photography using the computer equipment in my office.
For the past fifteen years I have been making photomontages, using photos I have taken during travels in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. At this point in my life my influences are as diverse as my background. Mexican Indian religious art, which conveys a sense of mystery and spiritual happening, has strongly influenced my work. The imagery in my photography reflects the other worldly energy found in Mexican art.
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