The exhibits below were previously featured on this site.
Grinnell, Iowa, 1973
During my senior year at college (1972-73), I lived with my girlfriend in an off-campus apartment, above a florist in downtown Grinnell, Iowa. We lived in the rear apartment, and an older couple (Joe and Cecile Schwab) lived in the front. The Schwabs acted as surrogate grandparents, and kindly allowed me to take photos of them and their apartment. Mrs. Schwab liked collectibles. Mr. Schwab rarely left his chair.
Besides the images of the Schwabs and their apartment, the others are from the same period. The older man on the steps leading up to my apartment is Sam Berman, senior member of one of the only Jewish families in Grinnell at the time. Mr. Berman owned a metal salvage yard (shown in two images), an occupation which I have read was acceptable for Jews spreading throughout small town Midwest. (It didn’t occur to me when I met Mr. Berman our respective family histories have some parallels. My father’s father, upon arriving as a teen in Chicago from the Ukraine in the early 1900s, made his living re-purposing scrap leather from the Chicago stockyards and built a business that my father later inherited.) I did not have the presence of mind to correct Mrs. Schwab when she referred to Mr. Berman as “Sam the Jew”. This was my first direct experience with such attitudes, though they were apparently common among Grinnell townspeople, according to a local historian.
The train tracks shown bisect Grinnell. They were the subject of an urban legend about an enterprising college student who wired them to the transmitter of the low wattage college radio station in order to magnify its broadcast range. The image of roaming kids was taken downtown. Given that the girl in front is holding a half-eaten candy bar, the photo likely predates the era of “no shirt, no shoes, no service.”
In animistic spiritual traditions, elements of the world are thought to have an inner life or consciousness not readily accessible to human perception. If consciousness is an integral part of the physical world, then there is an immense amount of invisible inner experience going on all around us that is presently inaccessible to humans.
In order for me to be able to observe and record these otherwise unseen consciousnesses, I activated an in-camera reflection tool. As I move my camera across the landscape, I simply have to be patient and wait for them to emerge into my visual field. In my imagination, they are silent and omnipresent guardians of our world.
A Family of Trees
In October, 2018, I was invited by the owners of a patch of old growth forest in Bath County, Virginia, to camp on their property. Their forest is under existential threat due to its being in the right-of-way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and there had been a protest encampment that summer. (As of January, 2019, the landowners had not been served with eminent domain documents.)
In these photos, I try to capture my experience of Shinrin-yoku, which translates from Japanese to “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. I include a photo of a carved wooden infant that had been nestled at the base of a “grandmother” tree called Ona during the interfaith blessing.
According to Irish legend, Samhain is the time of year when portals to the “otherworld” open, allowing the souls of the dead to cross into our world. More modern festivities taking place around All Hallows Eve carry on these Celtic traditions in a Christian context. While visiting some medieval sites in Ireland during Samhain, 2017, I imagined spirits of the departed inhabiting the ancient stones and crumbling edifices, fields and pathways. Sites represented in these photos span almost 1,000 years (in some cases of almost constant human habitation). They include a hedgerow near Kilkenny, a River Maigue streambank where women did their washing, Kells Priory, the Rock of Cashel, Glendalough Monastery, and Jerpoint and Quinn Abbeys.
In the following images, I use long exposures to ofrer an impression of the energy trails that we humans leave in out wake as we go through our everyday lives.