At its best, photography enables the kind of seeing that William Blake wrote about in “Auguries of Innocence.” By training their lens on the everyday, photographers show us what we miss and what we can recover if we would just slow down and really look, with the unblinkered eyes of a child.
“Photographs,” Tom Epperson and Denise Weldon’s joint exhibit at Art Fair Philippines 2020, continues the journey they started with “Works” in last year’s art fair.
Again, the subjects are still lifes, usually objects found in nature, but confronted simply and directly by artists whose doors of perception have been cleansed, not by any artificial means but through a rigorous, disciplined practice of their craft.
In the case of Epperson’s “Sand Series,” it was seeing literally through the eyes of a child. On their regular beach walks, his 9-year-old son Dylan would draw his attention to what he would see in the sand. Epperson would come back the following day with his camera to capture the image.
The process was inspired by, of all things, the America oldie “Ventura Highway,” with the line “alligator lizards in the air,” a reference to the childhood pastime trying to say what cloud formations look like.
“It got me thinking: At what point in our lives do we lose our childlike wonder and imagination?” he says.
“Somewhere along the line, we as adults have forgotten what it is like to be a child—to see the beauty in the simple things that nature provides us. My concern is that we are destroying the planet at an alarming rate and if we keep up at our present pace, these very simple things we take for granted may soon disappear.”
An avid surfer since the age of 11, Epperson has had a lifelong affinity for sand, which finds expression in the photographs he has included in the exhibit.
Where Epperson looks for epiphanies on the earth’s surface, Weldon finds them in the things that grow beneath: radishes, ginger root, celeriac. Weldon’s camera seeks the beauty in the rough-hewn.
“To me they are beautiful sculptures not formed by human hands,” she says. “These gifts, glorious and gorgeous in their earthly amazingness, come from deep beneath the surface. They are root crops, full of nutrients and minerals, grown in and then pulled from the nutrient dense soil of Mother Nature.
“Oven baked by the ultimate source, they are birthed into their simple spectacularness, exposed to a quiet pressure that forces their growth to move from their seed form up, up, up towards the light that beckons them. Black radish, celeriac, taro (gabi), ginger and white radish are my subjects. I pay homage to them, focusing on their shapes, forms, colors and textures, for they are to me intriguing and primal, gnarly and mysterious.”
The photographer’s work is also informed by her mindfulness practice, a calm and dispassionate observation, moment by moment, of the flow of life. Weldon often continues to photograph her subjects as they devolve and desiccate, seeking to capture the transformations of transience:
“There is no greater teacher than Mother Nature to shape us into the most profound aspects of who we are, what it is we are here to share, and to flow in the certainty that all is unfolding continually, perfectly and in her timely way.”
As with last year’s exhibit, “Photographs” is curated and mounted by Migs Rosales of Team Caramel Creative Consultancy.
The exhibit is just part of Art Fair Philippines 2020’s offerings meant to push photography as an art form. The photography section this year also features work by Poklong Anading, the art/n23 collective, Strange Fruit, Tarzeer Pictures, Silverlens Photo, Luzviminda and Neal Oshima’s “bio/trans/forms.”
“Photographs” by Denise Weldon and Tom Epperson at Art Fair Philippines 2020, Feb. 21 – Feb. 23 at the Link, Ayala Center, Makati City.