Canyon Nudes began after some stormy days and scary adventures
while on a houseboat trip at Lake Powell. Struggling to find
our way in a small motor boat in high seas and later experiencing
a flash flood, my companions and I were made personally aware
of the fragility of human existence within the powers of the
natural world. When I began photographing the human form in the
sandstone context, it was as a shadow or reflection only. We,
like the generations preceding us, were only tenuous presences
passing through while the land bore witness.
make the images, I found or poured pools of water on rock or clay.
Reflections, my primary vehicle for merging flesh with land, show
up well only in shade. At first, I included sunlit sandstone reflected
in water because it evoked flesh. Later I added sun on the figure
or entering the scene. So most of the images combine sunlight with
bluer shade, resulting in a surreal and unusual color palette.
the sense of a unique world further, the images are turned upside-down,
so that the reflections appear to be actual bodies. My goal as
I worked was to have the images exist within their own space and
reality, so that they made as much sense, or more, turned around
as they did the way they were shot. I combined shadows, sunlit
areas, sticks and their shadows, and found that the more I added,
the more the images welcomed the complexity and evolved.
sunlight entering the shaded scene transformed it. The sunlit portion
of the body reflection looked like a fossil. Sunlight also erased
the edge of the puddle so that a body could appear to be emerging
directly from primordial ooze. Reflections join with the substance
the water is poured onto and take on its character. Thus, body
reflected in rock seems to be a geode or fresco. Reflected in clay,
it appears to be a shard of life.