Monday 2 May 2016

Last Saturday, my husband, Bill, and I both entered artwork in "Verdant," the John M. Parrott Art Gallery's 11th bi-annual juried show at the Belleville Public Library. Bill submitted two gorgeous art quilts (see them on his blog.), and I submitted a photograph and a photo collage. We were pleased to learn that all four pieces had been accepted into the exhibit.

Above is "Abandoned," the photo I entered in the exhibit. Here's my artist's statement about the photograph:

While driving home from Kingston along Highway 2 late in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 25, 2015, I came across this abandoned 1968 Chevelle in a field near Morven. The rusted car had obviously been embedded in the field for many years. Unusually for that time of year, the field was lush with new growth. The gloriously golden sun was just starting to set, casting a wondrous glow over the entire scene.

For me, this image captures the dynamic tension between the rusted, abandoned car and the rich green potential of the surrounding pasture. Yes, the pasture will soon be frozen and covered in snow, but in the spring, it will burst back to life in all its glory. Sadly, the car Рonce vibrant and in its prime 48 years ago Рwill simply continue to decay, no matter how inviting the spring sun. Ultimately, it will rejoin the earth, whence it came. This tension between life and decay is an evolving theme in my photography. The circle of life may be a clich̩, but it reflects a profound double helix of truth: without death, there can be no life; without life, there can be no death. We live our lives on the cusp of this inescapable truth.

[Photographed with a Canon PowerShot G3X camera (ISO 320, f/5.6; 1/1000 second)]

The above three images are from "Embrace the Decay," the photo collage I entered in the exhibit. Here is my artist's statement:

Dedicated to the memory of Muriel Bishop.

Decay fascinates me. It is an integral part of life. No decay – no life. Witness the compost cycle – decompose; transform; grow anew; repeat. The old circle of life.

Each day of March, 2016, I took a photo of the compost pail in our kitchen. It was amazing to see the varying textures, colours, and subtleties in that pail. Partway through the month, I began to wonder what kind of photo I wanted on the last day – until I realized that the pail had to be empty. When I took the last photo, I was in tears.

This photo collage is not simply a meditation on physical decay. It is also a rich metaphor for human life itself: as we age, we decompose. Our bodies deteriorate. What we once did with agility, we start doing in pain. Finally, we all reach the day when we die…and the cycle begins afresh. For many, this process is disheartening. However, my dear Quaker friend Muriel Bishop, who died in her late 80s after having lived a remarkable, joyous life, once told me when I complained about a painful knee, “Larry, learn to honour your diminishments. They’re an essential part of life.” In having observed my compost pail closely for a month, I was honouring Muriel’s wisdom. The glory of life is inextricably tied to the certainty of death. Carpe diem, indeed.

[Compost pail images photographed with a Canon G3X camera (ISO 160; f/4; 1/40 second). The Polaroid frame and text for each photo were added using Photoshop.]

Both the photograph and the photo collage represent a significant deepening and evolution of my photographic practice. I am both humbled and proud that they were selected for the "Verdant" show. It's also a delight that they will be sharing wall space in the exhibit with my dear husband's quilts.

"Verdant" runs in the John M. Parrott Art Gallery at the Belleville Public Library, 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, Ontario. The exhibit opens at 6 pm on Thursday, May 5 and runs until Thursday, June 2. Gallery hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 9:30 am to 5 pm; Thursday, 9:30 am to 8 pm; Saturday, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Thank you for reading this blog post. Your feedback, as always, is welcome.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Love the new techno blog intro I do all your other reflections. It was lovely to see you and Bill and your work at Parrott the other night. Have a new respect for recycling. Looking forward to your next post!