“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” ~ Paulo Coelho
In the 1990’s I was working on a beef ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I lived in a primitive (emphasis on primitive) cabin in a ‘holler’ . On one side lay the expanse of the Jefferson National Forest and the ranch spread east into a valley.
Spring arrived and along with it tiny, pink flowers called Spring Beauties that now carpeted the forest floor and their casual, exquisite splendor compelled me to borrow my boss’s old Pentax K1000, a small, manual film camera. While seeking to capture the flora of that Appalachia region, along with the mountain people the passion for photography had begun.
Behind the lens I had stumbled on an outlet for creative expression, a way to share a perspective of how the world looks through my eye, no words; the only language needed the open heart of the viewer and their own life experience. The lens had become a respite from the pressures of daily life — while capturing beauty in the seldom witnessed events which have become my subject of study.
A story shared by my mother, was how she rode horse while pregnant with me those many, many years ago, and I assume that is where the deep bond with a horse began, but that’s the silly romantic in me. Adding to that history was growing up on a farm in Minnesota where my mother rode those horses, myself now included, surrounded by the Holsteins we milked twice a day, the hay we baled in the summer heat, the soil we tilled and the chores we had to complete before all else, instilled an unwavering respect for the land, a tough work ethic, a fierce independence, a love of wildness, and an enduring attachment to those four legged creatures with flowing manes, flaring nostrils, and large, undeniable eyes. The horse, there is no denying they offered solace to a young girl journeying into adulthood, and provided a lasting souvenir to the exquisite scenes life delivered!
My subject matter, the wild ones (horses) are wrapped in the silence of the vast, desert range of the west, their freedom bound only to the next sip of water or nibble of forage, unfettered only by the relentless watch for rogue stallions or where to lie down to give birth. The silence of the wilds, it is hard to find in the cacophony of civilization.
My work has become about exploring the vastness of that natural landscape, focused on capturing the poetic, raw intensity the horse offers and investigating their elements of beauty, strength and social structure. On a formal level these images are about light, space, form, movement and scale. On an informal level my work is about seeing the everyday beauty in their natural surroundings, about exploring time, place, memory and change.
The story behind the image and the final piece of art are a medium and tool to give back to that romantic subject matter, to raise awareness for all horses, but specifically for America’s living heritage—the wild horses whose ancestors impacted this countries first people, and then carried and pulled Euro-American’s from east to west.