Whether it’s a home I’m constructing or a mountain of mashed potatoes, building is about solving problems, getting around obstacles, making something that is more than just the materials being manipulated. It’s more than just quelling the yearnings that drive me to create things. For me, building is about hope and dreams. Piecing together some semblance of peace. And future.
I wish you all of these things: Hope. The realization of your dreams. Peace. And a bright future. Happy New Year. Happy 2023.
While photographing scattered debris on the concrete floor of a construction site, I came across this neat bundle of nails. In Photoshop I turned it into a heavenly body above the littered concrete to make this week’s fabricated landscape.
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Everywhere I look it’s a construction site. Works in progress. Building, re-building, replacing…. Improving. Concrete and wood are my terra firma these days as I fix up my current home for selling and watch the progress of renovating the new home. In both places I bask in the stark beauty of newly painted walls, the smell of fresh-cut pine trim, and the echo of empty space. Seeing the concrete that will soon be hidden away under carpets and flooring is comforting. There’s something grounding about being in the middle of the bare bones of a place, when it’s devoid of all the furnishings and stuff of daily living.
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I hate saying goodbye. Saying, “See you again soon” feels much easier, even if I know I won’t be back—or see whoever or whatever— ever again. So when I leave, I go quietly, often without saying anything, and without leaving a trace. Sometimes my exit is all about escaping, and sometimes I’m simply moving on to some other adventure. No looking back. No regrets, usually. Just off, alone, into the sunset.
This juxtaposition of rocks at the Finger Lakes Stone Company reminded me of that. At the quarry there were slabs of stone and huge hunks of concrete wherever I looked, and I photographed dozens of lonely landscapes. The only thing I did in Photoshop for this fabricated landscape was piece together a frame from the lengths of concrete-strengthening rebar that I found laying about.
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Long ago my mother used to scold me, “Don’t play with your food.” But I’d keep making hills and valleys in my mashed potatoes anyway. So I guess building fake landscapes is part of my history. And this time of the year, when there’s so much going on, escaping into play-mode is one way I cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
At Grisamore Farms in Locke, NY, there were bins of every kind of squash. Smooth, marled, rough and knobbly. A pebbly squash lay against a mottled one, reminding me of a fertile field under a cloudy sky.
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My kids used to accuse me of not knowing how to play, not being silly enough. And it’s true. Silliness never came naturally to me. But now, photo-shopping allows me to stretch the truth and lie. To make things up. To play. Even when I’m depressed.
The bellies were plump and sagging on all the animals at the farm where I was doing a class photo-shoot. Back home, by the time I dropped my images into Photoshop, I couldn’t remember exactly whose belly I’d shot, a sheep’s or a goat’s or a horse’s. No matter. For my fabricated landscape of the week, I was turning whoever’s hairy belly it was into a heavenly body. I placed it over the upended, very somber trunk of a tree that, in my mind, resembled a flowing river. This is about as silly as I get.
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Walking out from a construction site, I passed by something slick, tarlike and greasy, on the ground. I’d had a hard time finding interesting things to photograph at the site but suddenly I was intrigued. The reflection of lamplight and the oozy-goozy-ness of whatever it was on the floor immediately reminded me of a night sky. In Photoshop, I paired it with the dry rusted wrought iron beam I’d discovered in the same building. I burned a highlight in the image of the rusty iron to reflect the “moonlight” of the tarry sky. The darkness of the place in the picture would normally depress me but creating these fabricated landscapes allows me to disappear into them at times and draw up enough light to feel comfortable.
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