Lights, photoshop, action! This portfolio is a motley assortment of contemporary art, portraits that tell stories, post-processing magic, and ideas that wouldn't leave my head any other way. This collection is a blend of photography, photomanipulation, digital art and writing.
I grew up in a place made of change. This former oil well near the town of Rosebud, Alberta, tells the larger story of my home as I have seen it. Formerly a hub of activity and grand hopes and dreams, it failed to produce enough oil to pay for its upkeep and was sold on several times and then abandoned. Though the well itself was properly sealed and taken out of service by its last known operator, they never finished the process of dismantling the site. Instead, a pumpjack stands frozen against the prairie sky, the pressure gauge on the tank beside it rusted in place at zero. Standing as a monument to what once was, the site still gradually gives way to nature and human intervention. The farmer whose land was used to drill the well has planted crops flush to the edge of the well site, starting to peak through the early spring snowmelt in tidy rows, and several forms of wildlife have found refuge there from the open farmland.
Instruments have a character of their own. Some of that comes from what we project onto them, the histories they develop and the memories we grow with them, but some of it is unique and special even without knowing where they came from. This comes from their sound—wooden instruments especially change and settle with time and use, but it also comes from how they play, what they feel like in your hands and respond as they are played. Even if they aren't truly alive, they have a sense of personality and self. Here are a couple of portraits that tell the stories of instruments that I know.
This series is, and will always be, a work in progress. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Was photographed during a very cold spell of a very cold Canadian winter. Many thanks to White's Flowers for helping me keep spirits high, and for helping me convince myself that spring will always be on its way.
“Lord, what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man?”
― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man
We say a lot of things with flowers. We see what they can do, and we give them personalities as if they were people. They are certainly more simple than real people, who can't be the same thing all the time and put on different faces for different occasions. I find it charming, the different flowers that look like different emotions to people. If I'm a different flower every day, then here is a bouquet of faces for different times when I might need them, picked from the Canadian Rockies I call home. Fireweed for hope and resilience, buttercups for joy and caring, and Castilleja for life and passion (and because it's one of the few flowers still blooming during my birthday every year).
There is always a third option. One of the greatest gifts that life has given me is a mother who taught me that you don't always have to give one thing up to gain another, and to always put up a good fight.
One of the few things I made in high school that stands the test of time, this image was originally made for the Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward Incubator program. A bouquet of daffodils from a Canadian Cancer Society booth at my local grocery store, and layers over time of what happens when they are given the chance to bloom.
'Sloth' is the odd one out of the traditional 'seven sins'. It was once the 'sin of depression', until we realized that maybe it isn't so much a sin as a medical issue, and we have antidepressants and therapy for that now. Then it became underachievement and laziness until we realized that maybe people don't decide to fail at things just for kicks, and now we have ADHD medication and on-site learning supports and other ways to help people through that, too. There is one version of the 'sin of inaction' that I don't think we'll ever be rid of, and that is the ever-present 'not my problem'.
The things we experience in dreams aren't bound to the laws of reality. We dream of doing things that would never be possible in the waking world—things like flight. Wonderful dreams can let us escape, for a short while, from the stresses of our waking lives. I treasure those dreams of flying. For me, they are a glimpse of a kind of freedom beyond anything reality can provide for me. I can't help but envy the butterflies that float on the wind like they aren't bound to gravity at all. I think the lure of flying is this: if only we could fly, we could fly away from anything. After all, "flight" can refer to the verb "to fly", but it can also mean "to flee".
My worst nightmares have always been when I'm awake. There are a number of ways that our minds can lie to us, some of which I've experienced and some I can only describe second-hand. Sleep is so key to our neurological function that when it starts to go wrong and your brain's relationship with sleep starts developing issues, everything else starts to fray at the edges too. My 'nightmare' is what happens when disordered sleep starts bleeding into day-to-day life, perceptions become distorted, and everything starts to feel like it's not quite real.
Death is the last of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and the one that seems to capture the most human curiosity. Most of the history of human religious thought has been about trying to make sense of death, to understand it and make peace with it. It seems to be the inevitability of death that we find both terrifying and comforting in equal measure—it cannot be prevented, it is inevitable, and we might as well make peace with it for lack of other answers. Death will come, just give it time. It makes sense, then, that death is often made to be a cycle. Many religions use cycles of death and rebirth, and many modern philosophies of death assign deeper meaning to the scientific fact that the corpse left after death is a source of energy for other organisms to grow and live, until they too die and return to the earth. The cycle of day and night and the cycle of the seasons are lifetimes on a different scale, the sun rising and bringing light only to set again in the west, spring bringing warmth and life and growth that withers and fades as fall fades into winter and the first snows fall. The four horsemen of the apocalypse ride with death bringing up the rear, just as evening ends the day and winter ends the year and death ends each life, and so time carries on.
This 'Uniform' is an identity within a subculture. Subculture is what happens when a group of people fail to conform with the dominant culture in the same way, and find that they are happier grouping together and appreciating what sets them apart. However, human nature within a subculture doesn't change, and there is still a certain expectation of social norms, proper dress and general unity within such a group. It's only that these standards are different and maybe a bit more interesting—and unlike in the greater society they exist within, there is always the freedom to go off and find a different group whose 'uniform' suits you a little better. I own more clothes than boots and band tees, but I find joy in them. Having put the uniform of a metalhead mosh pit to camera, I'm excited to go out and see who else's uniforms there are out there for me to photograph in the same way.
Is an idea of mine, reflecting on how grief and hope are not mutually exclusive, how memories of those we no longer have with us keep them alive and bring us hope, and how the lessons taught to us by those we love are not lost to us with time. But mostly, it's just a flower that reminded me of sad things but that I found to be beautiful anyway.
Shown in the AUArts Grad Show '22