224 NW 13TH AVE
PORTLAND, OR 97209
Since I was a small child, I have been quite fascinated with nature. I am also very interested in the function of folklore, myth and magic within our culture. When I moved from Los Angeles, California to Portland, Oregon just over four years ago, I was profoundly influenced by the lush and abundant natural landscapes, vast parks and varied wildlife near my new home. It is a very stark contrast to the urbanity and concrete landscape of Los Angeles. I felt a great excitement and urgency to relate my experiences of these amazingly beautiful settings through my work. I also wanted to recount various folk tales I have been revisiting by visually melding my admiration of the Oregon forests with folkloric allegory.
The concept for the ongoing series of large scale photographs entitled The Wilds, as well as the five additional photographs in the exhibition Death Caps and Dark Wood, stem from my interest and concern with our dwindling relationship to and understanding of nature, the flora and fauna within it, and the waning utilization of folklore denoting this phenomena in Western society. The words “wilds” or “the wild” derive from the notion of wildness and wilderness; that which is not controllable, or the geography that is uncultivated and uninhabited by humans. The quest to understand nature and the wilderness has always occupied humankind. All known cultures have historically utilized myth, folklore, and art to interpret and define their relationship to the natural world. I believe the continuation and dissemination of myth and storytelling referencing the natural world are integral to the comprehension, reverence and preservation of the wilderness.
Humans have chronicled an ambivalent relationship with forests, trees, and their inhabitants both real and imagined. Consider the stories of Hansel and Gretl, Little Red Riding Hood (both originally from The Brothers Grimm) or the forest journey in the epic of Gilgamesh. Try to recall the prolific prophetic tales of mythological beasts and forest dwellers. Contemporarily, it seems the sense of respect, wonder and awe of the natural world has been lost—along with the age-old tales about our important relationship to nature—as we move deeply and relentlessly into a further industrialized, urbanized and technologically laden society.
Thus, The Wilds is a series of photographs conceptually based on the depths of old growth forests, secluded woodlands, untouched mountains, and remote riverbeds—the hidden places in the natural landscape where animals, plants, monsters and creatures live a disparate existence from the human experience. The Wilds is a parallel universe to our man-made reality with unfixed borders. In the remote and seemingly sparsely inhabited areas, the language is very different from our own, it is ancient and wholly innate. This terrain of wilderness somehow encompasses a greater intensity—an intensity that seems unknown to many urban peoples.
In The Wilds, various inhabitants and objects are engaged in distinct moments where the viewer seems to have stumbled upon a window to an inexplicable and peculiar setting. The characters and context of each carefully constructed image are interchangeable, and each photograph can create divergent narratives for the observers. Initially, when viewed, the images might be interpreted as landscape photography, although, on closer inspection, one can discover numerous unexpected and otherworldly happenings within each complex construction.
All of the images from The Wilds were photographed in Oregon State Parks and protected wilderness areas where the mission is to provide and protect outstanding natural, scenic, cultural, historic and recreational sites for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations. The sites range from beautiful old growth forests to meadows of elk reserves, winding rivers and creeks, and remarkable oceanside woods. These protected settings prove to be a very effective backdrop to set the stage for rekindling important narratives of folklore and wonderment, both ancient and contemporary, regarding the significance and splendor of the natural world.