Bio and Artist’s Statement
I was born and raised in the midwest and lived in a small town 60 miles from Chicago. My favorite things were simple: playing cards and trips to the flea market with Grandma K (she taught me how to negotiate); 4th of July weekends in Wisconsin with sun warmed skin, the local county fair, swimming and taking the boat around the lake at sunset.
At Grandma C's, we canned tomatoes every summer. The whole family pitched in with grandma upstairs cooking and grandpa in the basement canning. Then we all ate her spaghetti sauce and homemade bread. There were regular family reunions at their small house with so many cousins and aunts. (Grandma C was the youngest of six sisters.) Grandpa C was “Uncle Woody” to everyone.
At 18, receiving the gift of Grandpa C's Nikon F was indelible for me. He was quieter and, like me, always in the background with that camera documenting our family. He passed away a year earlier, and I'll always be grateful for that road trip East with him and Grandma C the summer before.
I studied design, art history, poetry, and writing, and received a B.F.A. in visual communication from Northern Illinois University. I worked in Chicago as a designer then as a freelance art director. I pursued photography as a hobby at first, documenting ordinary things, capturing candids of friends and family and collecting moments from my travels.
As an art director, I worked with talented photographers and stylists to produce editorial shoots, ads, and catalogs. But my passion for photography was ignited when I discovered the films of Bergman (Persona, Through a Glass Darkly, The Seventh Seal), Bertolucci (The Conformist), and Antonioni (Blow Up). In their work there was something about the synergy of the set design, art direction, framing and shooting angles, the strategic use of both lighting and negative fill, and how with great editing a story cleverly unfolded one frame—or rather one photograph—at a time.
At the same time, I was reading T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and books by Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung on archetypes and symbolism, the collective unconscious, and the unity of opposites, the Heraclitean principle that all things eventually make way for their opposite. Night turns into day, endings beget beginnings, death makes way for birth, renewal, and so on.
I was also reading Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg, whose words painted reality honestly and without pretense. He seemed to focus on the unseen and find beauty in the ordinary, which has always resonated with me in my work as a photographer.
I started to think differently about how I approached photography — or rather I decided to forget everything I knew about it — and went on a month long trip through Europe in the fall of 1999. There I found a new appreciation for surrealism, specifically for the work of Belgian painter René Magritte after seeing a comprehensive collection of his paintings at a museum in Denmark. Magritte posed questions about the nature of representation and reality.
I came back from that trip with enough work for a portfolio. The following year I started working as a freelance photojournalist for Chicago area newspapers and later moved to Nashville.
In 2020, as the pandemic came, I found myself at yet another creative and spiritual crossroads. After 17 years in Nashville, I decided to sell my house and (nearly) everything. With a suitcase, camera gear, and my dog Lily in tow, I embarked on a month-long road trip through Wyoming, Montana, to Washington, where I stayed and worked several months. In 2022, I ventured West again to explore Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado, then last summer revisited familiar places in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Creatively, during these last three years, I have returned to the questions of reality, truth, memory, time and the representations thereof that Magritte, T.S. Eliot, and Jung explored. These questions seem even more relevant today as the dawn of technologies in artificial intelligence emerge against a backdrop of great turmoil, violence, censorship, the spread of disinformation, loss of privacy and autonomy, and the ubiquitous proliferation of algorithmically fed digital content.
“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”
Through time, memory, meaning, and perception change. Yet grief does not seem to adhere to our concept of time. Endings become beginnings become endings. The only constant is change. There are no other absolutes. And time is always marching forward despite our resistance. Paradoxically, within time....
“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”
It is from this foundation that I began experimenting in my personal work. Also influenced by cubism, I've moved away from figurative or representational portraiture. I am starting to break apart the appearance of my subjects into shapes, areas of light and shadow, patterns, textures, color, and movement. From a design perspective, I've also been playing the use of white space and weighted areas in my compositions. When the pandemic came, I turned my focus toward landscapes. I now have a large body of work that I am currently editing and plan to show later in 2023.