“Ghosts: War Artifacts”reinterprets historical photographic portraits to portray the emotions and damage of war. Using images from the American Civil War, I remove the metal mattes from the original 1860’s decorative cases to reveal the vivid patina of 160 years of oxidation – the “backstage” of memorialization. I then print them as transparencies which are mounted on 24”x30” acrylic, reminiscent of the original ambrotypes that were wet collodion on glass and that could be held in one’s hand. I have photographed some ruby and purple ambrotypes from the back such that the image is inverted and takes on the brilliant color of the original glass. Some are composite images, similar to “spirit photographs” of the 19th century. Mounted slightly away from the wall, the young soldiers and women cast ghostlike shadows on the surface behind them. Images can be accompanied by period artifacts, such as a woman’s mourning shawl or bodice or a soldier’s sewing kit or canteen.
My previous series of war artifacts – “War Games” – is composed of macro portraits of “as found,” damaged, vintage toy soldiers from the 1930’s through 1960’s. Why were these broken toys not thrown away? Because they were important to the children who played with them and because they have stories to tell. Consider the boys and the men they became as both implicitly present in these portraits of British, American, and German soldiers. And I invite you to reflect on war trauma and how play mirrors and prepares for adult experience. Both then, and now.
I make digital macro images of these damaged toy soldiers to create 24″x36″ dye sublimated color aluminum prints. I also photograph them with a view camera and macro lens for one-of-a-kind, 4″x5″ wet plate collodion tintypes that I place in 19th century brass matte cases.
I have recently extended the toy soldier artifacts to poseable action figures from recent decades (“GI Joes”) in the series “Brand of Brothers.”
In my landscape work, over ten years, I have photographed a lily pond in southern Maine. From a jon boat I watch how life unfolds, absorbed by and into Nature. The work includes traditional landscapes, abstract macro images, and leaves frozen in transparent ice. My book, Anthem: For a Warm Little Pond, is made up of 50 of these medium format film and digital photographs and was included in the Griffin Museum’s Photobook 2016 exhibition.
Fine art photography relies most of all on seeing, but also on good technique and principles of design. I have been fortunate to learn from Karin Rosenthal, Bobbi Lane, Christopher James, Alison Shaw, Freeman Patterson, Andre Gallant, Joyce Tenneson, and Neal Rantoul, among other photographers.
Anaïs Nin once wrote that the personal life, deeply lived, always expands into truths beyond itself. What the psychoanalyst, Christopher Bollas, calls “That which we know but have not yet thought.” I seek images that make me feel, notice, linger. Consider them a remembrance – where I’ve been, where I’ve returned.