Found natural still lives and trees as metaphorical portraits, the photographs in this series, Presence, depict my experience as Burchfield Penney Art Center 2013 Artist-in-Residence. The work has emerged from my intuitive process exploring two landscapes with an 8x10-inch camera and portrait lens: across the street from Charles Burchfield’s former home in Gardenville, NY, now a nature preserve; and in the backyard of my home in the Catskill Mountains.
Presence celebrates my kinship with Burchfield, which is based on a reverence for and anthropomorphic vision of the natural world, an appreciation for solitude as well as close relationships, and a commitment to creative freedom.
Each image is titled Presence and includes a reference number and initials. The initials represent names of some of the people—in addition to Burchfield—who have been influential to my residency, including BPAC staff and supporters, literary figures, and personal relationships. For example, Presence 7 (AD) is named after author Annie Dillard who, like Burchfield, was inspired by Thoreau. I read her book, The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, at the beginning of my residency. A meditation on the year of solitude she spent in the Virginia landscape, it is a reflection on the art and act of seeing and communing with nature. The book inspired me to look at and embrace nature with even greater intimacy and affection. Presence 2 (NW) is named after Nancy Weekly, Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator at the BPAC. My initial connection to Nancy emanated from a mutual interest in Burchfield’s life and work, and has evolved through conversation, correspondence, and shared resources. Her enthusiasm and support have been essential to my increased understanding about Burchfield and to the development of this series of photographs.