A couple of weeks ago the Crusade made a stop in Portland for a pop-up and to attend the Photolucida Portfolio Review event. At a portfolio review, photographers at the mid-career level register for one-on-one meetings (20 minutes long) with gallery owners, curators, critics, collectors and publishers from around the world. As a reviewer, I met with 48 photographers over 4 days and was fortunate enough to informally see work from dozens of others.
People seem to ask me pretty regularly about current themes I see in photography, and although I don’t like to categorize, I will say that I saw a lot of work dealing with contemporary landscape – human intervention, neglect, urbanization. . . And I learned a new word! ”Dross” – ok, now that I used the google, the definition isn’t exactly as it was explained to me by one of the many photographers dealing with this topic, but as I learned it, dross is the in-between space in the landscape – places that have fallen away from use or that are coming into use. Dross. Photograph that. (or don’t, since lots of others are getting that covered. . .)
So dross aside, I’d like to highlight just a few images/photographers that peaked my interest. Some of this work is finished and ready to launch, and other portfolios are still working out issues and growing, but these are just few that I keep thinking about.
This image by Amelia Morris made me cry:
I pretty much loved everything about Marico Fayre, including this really meditative series, White:
This project, Kids With Guns: The Childhood Gravity Games by Kim Campell intruiged me – I think it’s going somewhere. . .
K. K. Depaul‘s mixed-media collage and assemblage pieces about secrets was wonderfully haunting:
A lot of talent always shows up for this review, and Portland of course is my love, so the whole time there was wonderful, start to finish.
Heather Evans Smith is our newest JSG artist, and we are thrilled to share her incredibly creative and visually arresting imagery with you. To continue with our blog series, featuring an image and the photographer’s own words about it (Kathleen Robbins told us about Burning Field and Jeff Rich told us about Blue Ridge Paper Mill), I asked Heather to share some thoughts on one of my favorite photographs, A Soft Place To Land.
in her words. . .
One of the biggest inspirations for my work is music. While driving back home from a visit with my parents, a song came on the radio that immediately caught my attention. “I’m looking for a soft place to land, the forest floor, the palm of your hand.” I saw a woman deep in the forest on a mattress. I didn’t hear the song again but that visual stayed with me. When an image haunts me, my only choice is to release it into the world as a photograph.
Six months after hearing the song all the elements were finally in place. I wanted an old mattress for the color and a deep forest to shoot. Luckily all those elements were available in or around my parents’ home. My dad and I loaded the heavy mattress (turns out vintage mattresses are much more dense than new ones) on top of the car and drove it down to the perfect wooded area. With my husband and dad holding the mattress from behind for support, I jumped and contorted into all sorts of positions, defying gravity, sleeping while standing (all while using a remote and throwing it down at the last second). After clicking the shutter for the last time and loading the heavy mattress back onto the car, I felt a release, an exhale, until the next visual sneaks in.
To continue with our blog series, featuring an image and the photographer’s own words about it (last week Kathleen Robbins told us about Burning Field), Jeff Rich tells us about Blue Ridge Paper Mill. This stunner has been the break-out image from his series, Watershed. The print is gorgeous – the colors make it look like a painting, and only when you get closer do you realize it’s actually pollution creating the effect.
in his words. . .
In 2006 when I was in the very early stages of shooting the work for Watershed I drove into the town of Canton, North Carolina. The town is unusual for this area of Western North Carolina in that a paper mill dominates much of the valley the town resides in. I was very surprised by the size of the plant and was interested in how the Pigeon River flowed right through the middle of the land occupied by the mill. I made a photograph of the mill that day and decided to research the history of the plant.
I found that the plant actually had a very controversial history. Opened in 1908 as Champion Fiber Company, the plant is now owned by Evergreen Packaging. This plant was the subject of intense protest in the 1980s and early 1990s, because of the pollution of the Pigeon River, the main water source of the plant. The bleaching process used to make paper releases many chemicals into the water and causes it to smell like rotten eggs and turns the Pigeon river the color of sweet tea. Starting in the late 1980s due to the public outcry the plant began to implement measures to clean up the plant. Today, although the plant is much cleaner than the past century, there are still problems with water quality and as a result there is still a significant public outcry.
Over the next two years whenever I was in the area I would take additional images of the plant in order to document the industrial landscape of the area. However, something seemed to be missing, I was never quite satisfied with the images I captured. Finally on a cold morning in December of 2008, I set up my camera before dawn and started shooting. I made several photographs that morning, but the one that I decided to use was shot a minute or so after the sun came up from behind a mountain. As I was watching the mill, the sun lit up the whole landscape and I realized this scene of fog and steam was the image that I’d been imagining as the most descriptive of this plant and it’s effect on the surrounding landscape.
To view more of Jeff’s work, click here.