This book is based on my exhibit, “21st Century Hieroglyphics” at the Contemporary School for the Arts and Gallery in Hagerstown, Maryland in September, 2009. The images were captured in an old quarry in Quincy, Massachusetts. An area that at one time was filled with water has been filled in with earth, probably to prevent people from being injured or killed diving into the quarry water. The result is a grassy space surrounded by rock cliffs that have been liberally decorated with a wide variety of graffitti. I have made two trips to this place and it continues to be fascinating. Looking at these rough granite walls, you are assaulted by a visual cacophony of abstract designs, haunting beings, social commentary that ranges from poignant to sinister to celebratory to simply chaotic. As I walked around the area, I tried to imagine what an archeologist a thousand years from now would think upon the discovery of these strange messages painted on rock walls. Would they know about it that far in the future or would they look at this as evidence of some religious cult or political uprising.
A few weeks ago I took a trip down to southern West Virginia to deliver some new prints to Tamarack and also to explore the area around Beckley. This region is generally described as West Virginia’s Coal Heritage region.
The New River Gorge is designated as a National River and is administered by the National Park Service. The overlook at Grand View provides a spectacular view of the New River.
(Click on the image to see a larger version.)
Little remains of the myriad of coal mines and small towns that came up in the late nineteenth century to exploit the high quality “smokeless coal” that was found in the New River area. The rail line and the small yard at Qunnimont is still active.
For those interested in the history of West Virginia, the New River Gorge is one of the most important regions.
Sunny days in summer are great for capturing infrared images. The lush green foliage is rendered white and clouds and blue sky can provide dramatic contrasts.
This image was captured with a converted Olympus PL-1 and the Olympus 9-18mm wide angle zoom.
Here is information about another of my photo books.
“Asylum” is a photographic exploration of an extraordinary historical site in the heart of rural West Virginia. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (formerly the Weston State Hospital) is the largest cut stone masonry building in the western hemisphere, second in the world only to the Kremlin in Moscow. Closed and abandoned for many years, the building was closed and abandoned. Now privately owned, it is being preserved and partially restored and is open to the public for tours, ghost hunts, and other events.
You can see some other posts about this project here.
I managed to get out for the day a couple of weeks ago and explored the new “Corridor H” highway that runs west from the Virginia State Line and I think will eventually run all the way to Route 79 in the center of the state. As it is now, it is complete to about 20 miles from Blackwater Falls State Park, so I set this as my destination for the day.
Back in March I photographed some dance workshops that were part of the Berkeley Arts Council’s Dance Works Festival. Nearly 100 young women and girls participated in workshops that were taught by several master level instructors. I was impressed by the focus and determination of these young people as they worked through the exercises and routines to improve their skills.
Photographing the workshops was great fun and it gave me a chance to stretch my skills in a very different way. Due to my chronic back problems, however, it was quite strenuous so on Saturday night I got an assist from my friend Mary-Jo Bennett, who took over and took some nice shots of the performances.
Overall there were a lot of images so I thought one good way to showcase them would be a short slide show with some music. You can check it out below. (Note: if you want to watch it full screen, click on HD first.)
There is a field near where I live where there is a great open space of hayfield. When the hay is cut and rolled up in large round bales, that is a sure indication that summer has finally arrived. After the past winter, that arrival is a welcome event.