Written for a group exhibition at the Friends Meeting at Cambridge, about artistic process.
…designed to reveal the process or steps involved in producing our art. If our final product is a destination, what is our journey, and how is meaning created along the way?…There has been a trend for museums to reveal the artist’s journey or process as part of an exhibition…
Simply put: listen to that still small voice; find a place where the noise of civilization and the quotidian do not drown it out; sit, walk, bicycle, sleep until the notion, the impulse, the need to photograph arises. Then photograph only what presents itself to be photographed (and then maybe a little more).
Some 50 years ago when I was 21 years old, I heard the whisper of the Great Plains, crossed it alone in my old Ford pickup truck named Cimarron, stopped to listen in the silence, heard only the sound of my own blood rushing thru my cochlea, and made a photograph.
Around that time, winter 1962—I’d photographed since I was 7 years old, inspired by my father’s gift of a cheap box camera, a Brownie no doubt—I visited the Iowa farm family of one of my best college friends, Mark Chapin. I noticed his father standing by the window, imagined what he might have been feeling, and photographed.
(Click image for an enlargement)
In the winter of 2004, I joined The Journey of the Magi pilgrimage walking to Bethlehem from Jericho thru the Judean Desert Wilderness, not far from where the devil reportedly tempted Jesus. There I discovered and tried to express the luminous winter desert landscape.
Finally, urged on by that still small voice, that same year I entered Gaza for the first time, drawn by the knowledge that the American Friends Service Committee had a program there. On subsequent visits facilitated by them, I often wandered thru downtown Gaza City, usually the only foreigner, and one day in 2013 a group of young men signaled an invitation to photograph them. Who is this young man, I pondered, with his multivocal expression? I worry now, after last summer’s violence, whether he still exists. Maybe only in this photograph.
It is said, let your lives be examples, sermons, and images so that you may then walk cheerfully over the earth, answering to the divine in all people, creating images of people and many lands.
This benefit of seeing…can come only if you pause a while, extricate yourself from the maddening mob of quick impressions ceaselessly battering our lives, and look thoughtfully at a quiet image…the viewer must be willing to pause, to look again, to meditate.
Words at an Exhibition, an earlier blog about my process, with more details and photographs
Slide show: “And you will be carried where you do not wish to go,” a photographic witness & a summary (for the moment & as of 2005) of my photography
“And you will be carried where you do not wish to go,” a photographic witness
(part 8 & earlier, added April 2 – May 24, 2010)
As an Artist, How Do I Survive & Thrive?
Revised and added February 15, 2010
The Palestine-Israel Kaleidoscope, a memoir-part 1
Newly revised and added January 16, 2010
The Palestine-Israel Kaleidoscope, a memoir-part 2
Newly revised and added January 21, 2010