About the Work

When I use common objects to create a photograph, I do not look at a teapot for example and
think, “Teapot,” instead I am drawn to its form, its texture and so forth, without concern for
functionality or any prior associations one could ascribe. I hunt for objects that in the right light
and angle of view suggest a “spirit presence” that one might experience when viewing African or
Outsider art, or the weird imagery of the Chicago Imagists.

Sometimes my compositions evolve into a puppet theater––a surreal world where some of the
objects are deliberately chosen for their anthropomorphic or zoomorphic resemblances. Each
new composition speaks to me as I take cues from the individual objects and make incremental
decisions. Sometimes I suspend objects with visible string or wire, or hold some in place with
hemostats and other devices to tease at the illusion of weightlessness and create a sense of
precarious imbalance, the pull of gravity or even floating in air. Suspending objects in the scene
by visible means is deliberate, and intended to reference the idiom of the theatrical environment
that would normally require the suspension of disbelief. An example would be Georges Melies’
film, “Trip to the Moon,” where the underpinnings are blatantly visible, revealing a world that is
playfully bizarre, mischievous and fantastical.

In my work, I imagine that the objects come alive and move around the stage in improvisational
dance––sometimes revealing traces of humor, but at others, a darker mood, like a still from a
film noir. It is my hope that the viewer will be drawn into my photographs, and become involved
on many levels.

In an earlier era, interesting relics of contemplation might have been housed in a “cabinet
of curiosity,” also known as a “Wonder Room”–– a 16th century phenomenon that was a
precursor to the modern museum. These encyclopedic repositories for “Objects of Curiosity”
were considered a microcosm of the artifacts, oddities, antiquities, and natural history specimens,
were usually presented in some formal enclosure such as a room, cabinet or a theatrical display.

​​Though I let intuition and experimentation lead me through the creative aspects of my work, I
place great emphasis on craft. For me to accomplish the level of precision and refinement that I
expect, the Large Format Camera became the instrument of my choosing.

​​Though I let intuition and experimentation lead me through the creative aspects of my work, I
place great emphasis on craft. For me to accomplish the level of precision and refinement that I
expect, the Large Format Camera became the instrument of my choosing.

​While the LF camera can be cumbersome and technically demanding at times, the rewards are
well worth the effort because of its capacity to record subjects in extreme detail. Because of the
larger negative, in my case 8x10 and 11x14 inches, the LF camera makes it possible to see
minute features in objects that would have otherwise escaped notice had they not fallen under the
gaze of the cameras’ tack-sharp lens. I could now look beneath the skin of things––right through
to what I felt was the essence––as though seeing the objects for the first time. The epiphany of
that moment helped steer the direction of my work today.​

As my photography continues to evolve, I have become intent on exploring and experimenting
with the painterly possibilities of light and shadow. In many of my still life constructions, light in
its infinite form, along with its counterpoint, shadow, are not intended only to illuminate or add
contrast to the scene, they are innate compositional elements essential to the ethos of
meaning––as important as are the solid objects and background materials I work with.

I often use antique condenser lenses, concave mirrors, prisms and other glass devices to
transform straight light into enigmatic shapes, inexplicable patterns, as well as mysterious
shadowy projections. Some of the optical instruments that accomplish the task are barely
visible—set back in the shadowy recesses of the composition. Some objects are prominently
bathed in full light, while others are positioned just beyond the boundary of the camera’s ground
glass, painting puzzling light forms that seem to come from nowhere.

Working in my studio and darkroom I become intently focused and lose myself––entering
a zone where the concept of time fades away. Where the creative process may lead is uncertain
until a moment of revelation, and the shutter is tripped. To quote Henri Cartier-Bresson, the
French Humanist Photographer, when he speaks about the decisive moment, “To me
photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an
event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.”

My intent with this work is to raise curiosity, and stimulate and bemuse the inquisitive mind. I
hope my photographs encourage the viewers’ eye to examine in detail, the wonder of things—to
meld the attributes of an art form practiced at a high level, while at the same time playing around
in magical wonderment—how a child might see something for the very first time.