If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves. ~ Edward Burtynsky
My fascination with trees has followed me from childhood. Surrounded by woods, my daily life centered on exploring every nook and cranny of the forest, observing, attentive to its vicissitudes, its breath. I inhaled its stories and silence, order and great energy, flexibility and persistence. The power of these life-giving experiences instilled a deep reverence for the natural world and a profound love of trees.
In my early photographs, trees claimed their rightful place in my work. Their beauty and mystery, form and spirit were and still are visually irresistible.
But themes of degradation of our planet have seized my consciousness and thus my work. Trees are canaries in a coal mine.
This ongoing project includes earlier images as well as more recent work that explores the alarmingly rapid escalation of tree deaths—26 million trees in the Sierra Nevada alone over the last eight months—as huge numbers of trees succumb to drought, disease, insects, wildfires, and sea-level rise, much of it driven by climate change.
The title, “Who Will Speak for the Trees,” comes from a poem I wrote in response to Ann Chadwick Reid’s exquisite cut paper triptych, “Cedar, Sage and Pine,” about the disappearing forests. Her artwork and my poetic response were exhibited together at Graves Gallery in Wenatchee, Washington.
In this project, “Interior,” I created a series of images made within an empty gallery. My aim was to explore the simplified space, making light and the space itself the primary subject matter. I was curious how the white walls would reflect highlights and shadows, how light-shafts of the afternoon sun or subdued light on a foggy morning would articulate the space. The resulting images were compositions of pure abstraction. They became quiet metaphors for the way the outer eye serves the inner.
What remains when humans are no longer present? Glimpses can be found in our vast, desolate salt flats and deserts; buildings abandoned and in decay; places once active but no longer populated; fabric that’s collapsed; traces that can be interpreted as signs of humanity’s absence. From an ongoing project titled What Remains, these photographs are a response to that question, and I hope they invite viewers to also contemplate the changing landscape.
Field Work is a series that reflects my deep resonance with—and concern for—the diverse and dynamic but also fragile agricultural landscape of the Skagit Valley where I live. These images also link to childhood memories of my grandparents, their small farm of thirteen acres, and their desperate effort to hold on to at least a fragment of their dream as large corporate farms moved in and forced them to yield, acre by acre.
This series of images, Waves of Steel, was made in a single day at Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. I was drawn to the contradictions between the billowing mass of steel and the lyrical flow of the space; its imposing presence and shimmering ethereality.