I have been working on a series of photos for a while now. And, when I say “a while”, what I really mean is years. I have vacillated between sharing the resulting images as a complete body of work, and not showing them at all. But, I have finally decided to stop toeing the line of my comfort and share a little bit about how this work evolved. When I have tried to describe the series to others, I am generally met with a blank stare, so I know the images are probably not going to resonate with everyone. However, this is what the muses gave me, and in order to complete this body of work - to complete this conversation, the work must be shared.
To be completely honest, I did not plan this series, which is why I said the muses gave it to me. And, well, let’s face it, you really don’t think of stock tanks as being the best fine art photography subjects. My original intent was to take some images to add to my textures “library”. I sometimes use textures in the post-processing of photographs and I have built up a "library" of images. My idea was to photograph the rusty, grungy surfaces of metal livestock tanks, to try my hand at mimicking a historic look on some of my images. However, in the process of taking those photographs, I began seeing compositions of shapes, color, symbols, and graphics on the surfaces of the tanks. These compositions included texture, but, I believe what emerged from those textures are much richer in content and have become somewhat a lexicon of the known, unknown, spiritual, mystical, as well as the passage of time.
As a little background, I grew up in Texas when it was still largely an agrarian culture. The landscapes were often dotted with oil pump jacks, windmills, and livestock tanks. Over time, oil pump jacks have been replaced with fracking for oil, the windmills are now wind turbines for clean energy, and the livestock tanks are increasingly replaced by housing additions. This is not intended to be a judgment. Change is just part of life. But, I also realize that, in many ways, this new landscape also signals a disappearing way of life. These changes become ever more clear when I have an opportunity to visit a farm or ranch.
I feel sure that in years to come, these metal tanks will be replaced with plastic fabricated versions, or perhaps some new technology will be developed for delivering life-sustaining water to livestock and wildlife. Contemplating the marks left behind on the existing tanks is both nostalgic and thought-provoking. At the same time, some of them are also playful and fun. But, what I am discovering in this exploration of abstraction is that I am always surprised at how each viewer brings a new vision and a new story to the images which, in turn, breathes a new life into them.
Now that you know a little background about the Wells of Renewal and Decay series, I want to share some of the images from the series, as well as their stories. So, each Wednesday in August will be “Wells Wednesday” on my blog. I hope you will visit each week. Bring your own vision to the story. Leave a comment. Tell me what you see in the graffiti of time.