Nature, in its many forms, dominates the images that fascinate me. I feel life most intensely in a natural environment, in its elemental state: water, rock, tree, soil and sky come together again and again in infinite designs and patterns that breathe, grow and change. A living artwork, the land speaks to me most through its details, short stories and vignettes, rather than broad expanses of landscape. I take what calls to me, tells me about its life, and points to God.
Floating just above the water, surrounded and vulnerable, I am immersed in the peace of Lake Garfield. These images are small isolated glimpses of spaces found while paddling over a modest lake in Western Massachusetts. Taken through the plastic lens of a Holga Camera, these views become slightly distorted and blurred, yet translate to film the visceral feel of the water and the experience of solitude felt while travelling in a kayak through grasses and algae along the waters edge.
These places can only be visited away from the safety of the land, though close enough to sense the relationship of the current and the shore and the life that thrives in between. I see these views as different rooms of the same house, shown in intimate portraits that reveal parts of a whole that help piece its story together, but not all of it. The lake will retain its mystery, not becoming a scenic view.
This series of tree photographs began in Western Massachusetts in the Southern Berkshire region, a place of retreat and renewal for my family. It is a collection of images that has grown to include the parks, woods, and gardens of other parts of the country especially New Jersey where I live. During walks, hikes and explorations, I found that particular trees stood out to make their presence known. They interact with the observer in their surroundings not just in their grandness, but with the stories they tell, sparking our imaginations to see and feel their individuality if we give them the time.
As trees grow they are affected by the many elements they come in contact with. Just like us, their environment helps or hinders the growth and final form they take. The subsequent scars, diseases, and catastrophes that can befall each of them create a being that is different from any other tree. To the human viewer these blemishes could be considered beautiful and add to the character and “personality” of a tree as they do people. My photographs focus on the trees that tell stories, awe, or communicate with their environment in a visual and emotional way. Acknowledging the symbiotic relationship we have with them is to remember that we are part of the earth and its complicated system.
“Low Tide“ was shot along the coast of Maine from 2003 to 2004. I was Captivated by the patterns made by water as it retreated from the shore, and the natural erosion that resulted. It made me conscious of the slowly changing components that have the past embedded in them, interacting with the more temporal elements that are created and destroyed daily, creating different but beautiful images each time. I find the connection with people’s existence here, fleeting, shifting, striking, and interacting with the unchanging truths and the personal histories of our lives.
A large oak that grew on the front lawn of our small front yard towered over the small split-level home I grew up in. It was more of a structure than a plant. As children my sister and I would throw blankets under it for picnics and naps. The oak would shed its leaves and create mounds of crunchy cushions for us in the fall. Although it seemed wild, it had been trimmed and controlled so not to overshadow the houses that were built on either side of it; but a two-story house is no match for a 40-foot tree.
In my earlier series, “Tree Portraits” (an on going photographic project since 2002), I’ve focused on trees mainly in wild or protected spaces, exploring their individual “personalities” that evolve from their environments and their nature. This group of images portrays town and city trees. Those tamed and pampered by their owners to enhance the property and street they have been planted on. As opposed to their wild cousins, who grow in forests, these trees are defined by their owners and the limits of the property they sit on. Many conform to the expectations put on them while others try over and over to become the beings they were meant to be… some succeeding. The physical changes that transform trees through their interaction with nature and humans stir a psychological and emotional response in me. I hope to share those feelings of identity and empathy with the viewer so that they may see these beings as they see themselves: a consequence of their environment, circumstance and nature.