The new significance of nature and the development of landscape painting coincided paradoxically with the relentless destruction of wilderness.
Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875
When I made Near Catskill Creek [October 15, 2004], which depicts a car graveyard in the Catskill woods, I wasn’t aware Thomas Cole had painted Catskill Creek nearby in 1845. This coincidence inspired the series I, Kaaterskill, weaving a dialogue between an American wilderness idealized by mid-19th century painters and the degraded environment we live in today. When I showed this early work, I paired it with reproductions of the Hudson River School paintings, many made in the same vicinity.
This inquiry into the forces that animate a place is a through-line in much of my work. I’m inspired not only by the historic and cultural influences that vibrate in a setting, but how we gather up these bits of data to form an idea of a landscape—or as Merleau-Ponty writes of Cezanne, to depict “an object in the act of appearing, organizing itself before our eyes.” These words articulate my desire to capture the immersive act of beholding: through manipulations of light and space in my photographs, I seek to slow down the moment of observing so we can see deeply into the meaning of a landscape and contemplate where we are.