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Gwen Laine

Gwen Laine


When I was a young girl, my father's job involved traveling territories by car in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Whenever he could, he took my mother and me with him. Most often, we traveled before dawn or at twilight, and it was always an experience of night becoming day or day becoming night. My memories of the landscapes we passed through are framed by the window of the back seat of our car. I was separated from them by distance and speed, and oftentimes the landforms were just silhouettes where darkness denied details. I recall an intense curiosity to see through that darkness and to come to know those places. In the unknown, I imagined both the terrifying and beautiful, and I think I often fell asleep wondering what it would be like to be out there all by myself.

This background made it natural for me to look at the world through the lens of a camera. It also made me want to stop and look as closely at things as is possible. That undercurrent of desire has driven all of the art I have created, but this is the first time I have allowed myself to work in the landscape. I’m not sure why that is, but I think it has to do with the landscapes that live in my imagination. I’ve had a long and personal connection to those places, and I know that creating this work will alter that relationship. But that’s the best thing about making art. It requires me to move forward, even if it takes years to move a few feet.

These photographs represent the start of what I see to be a years-long project. I began by shooting color and black and white film with my 35mm camera to create alternative experiences of the landscape. The camera always shows me something I can’t otherwise see, and it always points me in new directions. Spending time with these first photographs led me to a new way of thinking about the expressive capacity of my art. I came to see my black and white photographs as sketches upon which I could build digitally. The resulting works are hybrids of both analog and digital processes, and color and black and white imagery. They are also a hybrid of the landscape that my camera sees and of those landscapes that live in my imagination.

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