The Blackfork Bestiary selections for Guggenheim application. "Blackfork" refers to the Blackfork Creek watershed where my home sits. A Bestiary is an ancient catalog of animals. All in the studio. Human touch, containers, eye contact. Vertical format as a book project. There is a short story to go with each image. These images are very much influenced by reading Bruce Chatwin and Barry Lopez exploring their thoughts about landscape as the generator of human culture. All language, cultural customs, religion, technology are connected to and generated by the landscape. You don't need 100 words for "ant" or the knowledge to fabricate a grass skirt in the arctic, nor do you need 100 words for snow or the clothing to survive -30 degree winters in the tropics. I was mulling that knowledge while trying to puzzle out a vision in East Texas by orienting myself by watershed and Amerind trails and village sites. I kept bumping into my fellow Blackforkians...and decided to take some portraits. As soon as that creative foot was placed, they came cascading in.
In order of Guggenheim presentation:
Fledgling American Crow;
Bullfrog in beaker.
Black Widow in eggshell.
American Alligator and Texas Rat Snake.
I admit sighing as I have to make this disclaimer, but contemporary contact with and knowledge of our fellow inhabitants of our ecosystems is so limited that people routinely ask: "Are they dead? Did you hunt them? Where did you find them." et.
All animals are alive. (Don't they look alive?) All were legally handled. Many were rescued from the edge of oblivion. (Turtles trapped by curb and gutter on roadways, et) None were harmed or stressed by the experience. As any artist would tell you, they found ME as much as I found them. Bugs from the yard. An opossum from my 90-year-old neighbors garbage can. A public school science teacher's Bullfrog raised from a tadpole. Birds trapped in ductwork. Crows blown out of nest in town. Fawns mowed up in hayfields.
The whole series is up at Robertlangham.tumblr.com.
It all began with putting a foot on the landscape and searching out the way to walk and the way to think about seeing it.