Solvitur Ambulando consists of wet plate collodion photograms of flora I collected during walks. The series considers two perspectives. One explores ecological themes by drawing on the herbarium tradition and connecting to the dawn of photography. I am thinking of Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes of algae and Cecilia Gleisher’s photogenic drawings of ferns. Like Atkins and Glaisher, I am fascinated by the richness of the natural world. I am also deeply concerned about its survival in light of anthropogenic impacts. In today’s visual age, photographers have great responsibility. My hope of a small contribution is to point the torch to forms that are commonplace and easily overlooked. I deliberately control the hand-pour of the emulsion to suggest glass domes used in the 19th century for displaying precious objects. We protect what we love; we love what we know. These photograms ask the viewer to pause and to notice; to connect and to care: to consider the colossal significance and unspeakable beauty of a humble weed.
This series also explores a deeply personal inward journey, which speaks to the second perspective. I collected the flora during a period of upheaval, anticipation and loss. Each piece is a self-contained visual poem within the larger whole, where the medium itself plays a part in the storytelling. By manipulating chemistry, timing and light I create artifacts that suggest mystery and drama, evoking a spectrum of psychological interiors. Forms combine with textures to create moods and associations. Plant materials and arrangements hint at symbols. The herbarium becomes a catalog of “psychological specimens,” tethered to a time and place yet also existing outside of time and place; the biological specimens returning to the viewer as personal memories. In this manner, the natural form becomes inseparable from the artifact; the image inseparable from the hand; the objective inseparable from the subjective.