The midwest is some sort of home to me, if there even is such a thing as home. The things that I walk past every day that many without a camera overlook are friends to me. I make them my home. The contemporary, and even timeless form of landscape in the midwest is something surreal that I can’t seem to find a place to settle in, so I call it an arbitrary word: home.
My work is essential to my personal identity. I call myself a photographic artist, meaning I use strictly photographic means to create my work. Any dark box with light-sensitive material will do. The camera is my home. I live in a dark box. I edit and process my work in a dark box. I am a dark box.
But what is the story of my “home”? I constantly search for this meaning, connecting all of my projects with this thread of the midwest. Work such as Arbor, Neighbor may not look related to Moth, but there is something that connects the two. A sense of looking for understanding.
Since my beginning of my fine art photographic career in my second year at my university, I’ve started looking. I started to look everywhere to understand where I am and why i can never feel at home. Looking for comfort, looking for meaning, looking for a way to connect with something, somewhere that I can’t seem to connect with. The camera connects me to them. The personified landscape that I’ve made friends with. But sometimes, those friends fade, and you lose touch with them.
Time goes on, and I still wonder and wander the midwest looking for my home.
There is a light that draws. Ever closer, ever nearer. What do you feel? Drenched or locked? Contacted, or stopped? Go closer. Go nearer. Enter the stage, feel the presence engulfing you. Feel the presence.
The concept of single-image photographic stories has intrigued me for a few years. Taking ideas from classical, romantic, and impressionist paintings from art’s history, I sought out a way to compose these stories in a contemporary landscape. Placing myself or a model within the scene, being lit by primarily available light, I read each location carefully. I thought about what the location was saying to me, and what it could say to other people. Fusing the aesthetics of contemporary landscape with cinematic styling, I create open-ended narratives that I have my own personal connection with and allow the viewer to formulate their own interpretation of the series. These photographs can be seen as continuous, or a collection of short stories in the same cinematic universe, or even as a self-portrait. However you read this series is your call: what do you feel?
The fifteen photographs that are seen in this series were made during the autumn of 2018 and later finished early 2019.
Images made in 2018, published 2019
Seeking asylum in the woodlands of central Illinois, I escaped my emotions. I escaped the anxiety of my life. I escaped to the paces I felt most at home. This landscape where less than 1 per cent of the original natural state exists captured my mind and brought me in as one of its own. I looked, and I looked. I looked for something that I could connect with, and I found that I connected with the woods, with the water that they caressed. The year of change that progressed as I made these photographs represent a period of time that I cannot forget.
These sixty photographs were made during the entirety of 2018. January 21 up until December 22. What started off as a relatively small series made in January later turned into my first photo book, and what I consider to be the beginning of my mature contemporary photography career.
America, the beautiful. From sea to shining sea. Throughout my life, I’ve been to a small handful of national parks. It was on my first trip to Colorado where I started my journey into traditional landscape photography. Even back then, in 2013, I had an eye for the less-than-expected landscape photographs. After studying contemporary landscape and traditional landscape photographers, I began to look at these incredible parks differently. While my family or friends are shooting photos of the typical viewpoints, I’m off to the side, photographing the opposite direction at something that is often over-looked.
When you think of Illinois, you may likely think of corn or Chicago. Tucked away about an hour north of Normal, Illinois (where I’m currently based) are some of the most spectacular glacial canyons in the midwest. A popular tourist destination, I approach this landscape in a contemporary sense, similar to how I approach national parks. Looking for more intimate scenes and pops of color, the echoing chambers of stone still call my name.