About These Photographs

Food for the body, Art for the Heart image. "To make images is a way of ordering ones world, of exploring and understanding ones relationship to existence... the images we make are often ahead of our understanding, but to say "yes" to a subject is also to have recognized, however dimly, a part of ones self; to live with that image, to accept it's significance is perhaps to grow in understanding." - John Blakemore

I trace my interest in photography and the visual arts to my early childhood experiences growing up on the coast of Maine. There surrounded by the natural beauty of ocean, rocky shore and vast light-filled sky, I was ever being admonished to look, to see, to marvel at the astounding displays of nature so close at hand. The mesmerizing and inspirational quality of water and light nearly engulfing Bailey Island, the island on which I grew up, still serve me in my on-going search for glimpses of beauty to be caught and savored - much like my ancestors who were lobstering and fishing for "keepers." My own "keepers" are, I hope , evidence of both the natural and even sometimes manufactured beauty and visual mystery that awaits us in our daily travels.

It was on Bailey Island that I was particularly struck by my grandmothers keen appreciation of her surroundings, although, or perhaps because, she was completely blind. Having assumed early-on the task of sharing with her what her own eyes could not allow her to witness, I think of these photographs as extensions of personal sight to be shared with others. Each of these "keepers" is intended to celebrate the interplay of color and light, line and texture. Like the modest image of towels drying on a line, I hope these photographs serve as a reminder of the unexpected beauty and visually interesting detail that can easily be over-looked in our hectic, technology-dominated world. May they serve as reminders of the beauty that is ours to safeguard and of the kinds of relationships and world we wish to to foster.

As for the Boat Bottom Series, these photographs are of that which is normally unseen - the bottoms of boats. Usually hidden beneath the water's surface, this scratched, marred, patched and painted underworld reveals its self to be extraordinarily beautiful - full of texture, color and bold line. I am fascinated by this otherwise submerged world exposed to light only when a boat is on shore. Each gouge, each patch, each segment of peeling paint related a history and story of rocks and reefs, of care and neglect.

Growing up as I did in a small Maine fishing village, I witnessed the annual spring ritual of men and women working together to ready boats for the lobstering and fishing season. I remember the special pride and delight of being permitted to scrape and "copper" the bottom of my uncles' boats, of smearing fresh layers of paint over the "canvas" that is a boat's bottom. I hope that these photographs will serve as a reminder of the submerged and multi-layered worlds we all carry as imprints of accidents, disasters, misguided care and unintentional hurts - traces that, when exposed to light, ultimately reveal themselves to be a source of beauty, strength and inspiration.

The photographs are shot in a 35mm format usually using Fuji Velvia film. Prints are made on high quality heavyweight paper with attention paid to capturing the widest possible range of colors.

Stephen A. Black
November 2000