Tone Poem


Living in the Midwest for most of my life, I have grown to love the rich abundance of antiques and discarded treasures one finds at various thrift stores, antique malls, and auctions. Not only do I get a sense of wonder when I see something that I am not familiar with, but coming from a family who holds on to things, I always sense familiarity with furniture, clothes, and imagery of the past. In addition to feeling drawn to faux-painting wall hangs and old postcard imagery that I have included in past works, I now have a fondness for discarded snapshot photography.


Being part of a generation whose photographic world no longer exists in the physical realm, and whose culture is much less involved with the tangible environment, I am drawn to the visual metaphors present in these vernacular images of human relationships to the natural world. Their simultaneous ability to portray both foreign and familiar spaces creates, for me, a poetic visual experience.


Further inspired by Alfred Stieglitz’s “Equivalents”, the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa and Michael Wood, and Lyle Rexler’s nuanced take on photography’s inherent capacity for abstraction in The Edge of Vision, I began my own exploration of the camera’s ability to transcend experience through its inherent qualities, and to question our collective relationship to the natural world.


To approach this subject matter, I chose to work in black and white film, using a 35mm Canon AE-1, for flexibility, and to print traditionally in the darkroom on fiber paper. Unlike the large color prints I made in the past, I am interested in printing these images small, in order for the viewer to walk up to the print and have a personal experience with each image.  Additionally, printing in this way links the size and viewing experience of these images to that of old black and white snapshots. This body of images is titled Tone Poem to parallel their musical nature and to convey a sense of visual flow. These images are at once an attempt to slow down the experience of photography, and, at the same time, they reflect the continuous flow of imagery we have come to recognize as normal.  These images are perception at play, and are my attempt to give the viewer a dynamic experience of visual poetry. These images are excerpts from my personal experience with the tangible world that also attempt to mirror the collective Midwestern visual landscape.