In January of 2021, I moved to a new home. It was a house, unlike the co-op I previously lived in for over 35 years. I had a yard now with Rhododendron bushes, but it was winter so nothing was in bloom. I wondered with a feeling of excitement, “What color are my rhododendrons?” The question spoke to the anticipation of an unknown future. Of course it didn’t matter what color the rhododendrons were. I was just happy to have flowers much the way I imagine an expectant mother feels about having a baby regardless of its sex.
I was scared to move but more scared to stay. Would my life really change, or would it simply be a case of “Wherever you go, there you are?”
Prone to being easily overwhelmed, it is hard for me to see the big picture. What Color Are My Rhododendrons navigates through a time of dislocation, disorientation, and acclimation. My images are fragmented and make the familiar strange, like a common word said over and over until it’s no longer recognizable. This series is a non-linear examination of my feelings within a new space. It meanders, reveals at its own pace, and defies quick summation.
You were somewhere else but not too far away. Later, that same day, I took a picture of a glass of water, on a table, with light from the window passing through it; and later still, when someone saw the photograph, they said it was like a love poem. And I said I thought so too.
My photographs are notes and odd observations. They are ramblings. I’ve never been good with conclusions. In fact, I resist them in favor of the enigmatic or the ambiguous.
I photograph with the kind of curiosity one has when seeing something for the first time. But, it’s more like I’ve just forgotten that I’ve seen it, because there is a sense of familiarity with my subjects.
While photographing I feel like a hovercraft looking at what is in front of me and trying to understand what it is. My photographs are little visitations. It is curious how paying close attention to something can both serve to clarify and obscure meaning. Sometimes close observation mimics the experience of saying a word over and over until it sounds so strange you are no longer sure of its meaning or whether it’s really a word at all.
I’m interested in exploring the boundaries between what is familiar and what is unfamiliar. Sometimes, what at first seems obvious and recognizable can become strange and unknown, or known as if in a dream-like state where logic exists in an unquestionable way but then changes into ungraspable fragments that slip further and further away.
Sometimes when I look at my photographs I become frightened because of that “not quite right” feeling. There is trouble looming close by, some unnamable threat. I think this comes out of my belief that in this world there exists a very tenuous balance, a balance that can easily be disturbed, in which at any moment something might happen and from that point on nothing would ever be the same. I photograph with a certain desperateness: a need to see this something before it’s gone. It’s strange because outwardly my pictures are not about fleeting moments. On the contrary, they appear to be quiet and still. They are frequently inanimate objects and absent of people.
I learned about foreshadowing in the seventh grade, or, at least, I learned the word. I already knew the feeling. And it’s always there in my photographs. Underneath the quiet lays chaos. In keeping with these ideas, I have created work that defies quick summations and suggests a reality beyond that which is visible.