My work includes a number of enduring preoccupations: light, shadow, transparency, overlap, juxtaposition and interconnectedness – especially the jumble of memory, daydreams and daily life. Those preoccupations go beyond the making of images, this how I see and experience the world..
In photography I am working out of an obscure niche – ‘cameraless’ photography – but in a new way, informed by years of work lighting for film. Like Man Ray, Maholy-Nagy, Kertesz, Jan Groover and others, I work in an entirely ‘constructed’ world; differently from them I construct it entirely from projected shadow. The object I photograph is always the same thing – a translucent projection screen. What changes are the shadows I project on it.
Over the last 5 years this work has led me into lengthy tangents of studying sciography (in architecture, the study of shadow), lenses and optics, lighting instruments and the physics of light, shadow, bending shadows and diffraction. This all started on the set of a short film I was lighting where the Director of Photography and I wanted to replicate some of the effects of ‘film noir’ lighting. This turned out to be unexpectedly deep water. Luckily I started in the right place – the lighting instruments used in film are those best suited to reproduce natural light effects in a constructed setting.
The more I worked on cameraless photography, the more I realized how closely the work paralleled my work in painting and drawing – I was doing the same thing in a different medium – and all of them inform each other. I learn new ways of looking at painting from making photographs and new ways of creating photographs from drawing.
For me, making images of any kind is a process of exploration, not explication. One part of the process that is very important to me is hearing what other people see in my work, one reason I really like to show and to engage with people during a show – they often have more insight than I have.
I’ve been an artist my entire life. I got my first camera at 11 and have been painting, drawing and making things as long as I can remember. In college I studied both photography and studio arts. I was particularly interested in fine photographic printing and pursued that in NYC after graduation. When I moved into the city in 1980 I was able to work with and meet many artists I had only studied in college: Lisette Modell, Larry Clark, Larry Fink, Bruce Davidson, Jill Freedman and Robert Mapplethorpe and David Hockney among them.
I left New York in 1986 to get out of darkrooms (at least for a while) and concentrate on painting. I had 12 one man shows over the next 15 years, participated in many group shows and published many illustrations for academic research publications. In 2000 I was raising 2 kids on my own and took a long break from exhibiting. I took a job at Juniata College, in Huntingdon, PA which led me into both an MFA in Photography and a long process of learning film and new media production. The production team I built won 5 Telly Awards, a Davey Award and national press coverage for our work.
When I left Juniata in 2014 I worked professionally in the film industry – on independent films, commercials, features, industrials in both Austin, TX and Minneapolis, MN. This invaluable experience introduced me to tools, methods and processes that I now use every day. It was working as a gaffer on independent films trying to create realistic natural light effects that brought me back not only to photography but to new approaches in painting.
I am continuing that work, finding that no matter how much I have learned about light, shadow and the manipulation of shadow I still learn something new every day. I am endlessly fascinated by shadows, bending light, reflections and transparency.