Paradise Fire is an ongoing project that presents a more realist view of the American West, monochrome colors aside. With this work, I continue to use an 8 x 10 field camera – a solitary process that is as taxing as it is meditative. The exhibition’s title refers to a wildfire that burned roughly 2800 acres of Washington State’s rainforest in 2015, an event indicating the severity of our changing climate, and a natural disaster named by pairing two seemingly contradictory words. Antithetical language can reach to articulate the unimaginable, and my pictures endeavor to visualize an enigmatic landscape – a paradise on fire.
After returning to many of the same parks and sites depicted in previous work, my experience of these locations changed; I captured a different perspective, truer in coloration and more candid in composition. My titles list places and dates, and in some instances they disclose a subtext, as in Near the Future Sight of Portal Preserve, a Housing Development, Lone Pine, California, July 2015, a representation of Mount Whitney, or Wildfire in Glacier National Park, St. Mary, Montana, August 2015, an image of a rainbow-hued cloud.
Paradise Fire contrasts nature’s perfection against reality’s flaws through photographs that document settings such as: tourists taking selfies at Yellowstone; landscapes with encroaching forest fires; or, a desert floor scarred by dirt bike tracks. For me, a connection to the people I encounter, along with the associated trappings of technology and terrestrial decline, combine with my continued affinity for the environment --- I arrived at images that consider inevitable change, which simultaneously frame a binary experience, one that is alluring, yet ominous.
My interest lies in the changing American landscape, and this ongoing series reflects my unease. Our land is a direct reflection of human existence – our past, our contemporary lives, and ultimately our impact. I continue to explore, with empathy, these facets of society and the environment, looking to capture surreal moments, in order to better understand the complexities of our existence.