The Landscape as Theater
Night Light


The Landscape as Theater

My first memorable experience as a child of 3 or 4 years was wandering in a grove of majestic oak and hickory trees on my grandparents’ farm in southern Illinois. Being a city kid, this experience of “nature” established a lasting love for the landscape.

I purchased 40 acres of beech/maple climax woods in 1971. This dense grove of trees fascinated me and became the subject for my image making. During this process I realized that the purchase of this land was, in a sense, the re-purchase of a core meaningful childhood experience. The landscape soon became an essential part of my life.

As a result, the series A Prairie Ronde Island was born. Over many years of observation and exploration of this 40 acres, I understood it was not a place, it was an organism. The images I made were not only aesthetic but also a record of personality, temper, spirit, disposition, condition, and whim, all resulting from seasonal changes and ever changing weather. My land was a theater whose sets changed every day.

The intimate experience of my own woods turned my attention to the surrounding rural landscape and how people used, affected, and integrated land into their life. I saw that the landscape was not nature, but a thing that is often used as people see fit, and the Outland series began. People and their stuff now became the stage setting for other changes in the landscape.

Theatrical landscape extended itself further with the Night Light series in which the relatively dim light of night, both natural and man-made, references its own shifting effect on the landscape setting, as well as that of the time and space that surrounds each “universe” that is the subject of the pictures.


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