NOVEMBER 14 2015 THRU DECEMBER 23 2015
Paradise Fire is David Benjamin Sherry’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. Well known for imaging vividly monochromatic landscapes, his latest series of over 20 photographs present a more realist view of the American West, yet he continues 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 earlier this year, 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 Sherry’s 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, his experience of these locations changed; he captured a different perspective, truer in coloration and more candid in composition. His 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 radiant representation of Mount Whitney, or Wildfire in Glacier National Park, St. Mary, Montana, August 2015, an image of a rainbow-hued cloud. Subsequently, Sherry’s titles give context to scenes that are otherwise sublime.
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 Sherry, a connection to the people he encounters, along with the associated trappings of technology and terrestrial decline, combine with his continued affinity for the environment. He arrives at images that consider inevitable change, which simultaneously frame a binary experience, one that is alluring, yet ominous.
My interest lays in the changing American landscape, and this new series of pictures reflects my unease. Our land is a direct reflection of human existence – our past, our contemporary lives, and ultimately our impact. I explored, with empathy, these facets of society and the environment, looking to capture surreal moments, in order to better understand the complexities of our existence.