Artist Profile: Marsha Owett
Landscapes Inches Away
“Face” 2006 Archival C-print 16×20 in
“Lava” 2006 Archival C-print 16×20 in
“Pool” 2006 Archival C-print 16×20 in
“Reflection” 2006 Archival C-print 16×20 in
I am drawn to the randomness of nature that masquerades as abstraction. As opposed to my paintings, where I must do the abstracting myself, in photography I am nature’s curator. I do not disturb or rearrange what I photograph. I photograph still life in its truest form— life, still and undisturbed.
The series “Landscapes Inches Away” consists of photographs taken along the shoreline of Shimoda Prefecture, Japan. It represents my first immersion into capturing nature, specifically beaches and shore areas, and representing them as abstract works. I did the study in the fall of 2006 over a concentrated two-day period. Each shot became more compelling than the last. Inspired by the great landscape photography, but not feeling compelled to replicate it, I found instead the beauty of great landscapes, not in miles, but in inches. And like great landscapes viewed in full breadth, I discovered that the micro was different, but no less fascinating than the macro. The Shimoda series thus started my exploration into landscapes up close.
During my short time in Shimoda I became fascinated by the randomness of the sea and what it leaves behind, which is both so haunting and beautiful. Pebbles on the beach, ripples in the sand left by a gentle onflow of water, tidal pools shimmering in the sun take on a vastly larger dimension in my lens. Objects and patterns metamorphose as one looks at them. First they have one meaning, then another. The more one studies the photograph, the more the image’s meaning shifts. Rocks become mountains, cracks become rivers, sand becomes skin, and ripples become gold.
Shimoda was the perfect place for this vision to be born. It was my first trip to Japan. Prior to my arrival in Shimoda, I spent time in Tokyo. I visited temples, walked the busy streets, absorbing the design sense that is uniquely Japanese. From the ubiquity of advertisements pasted and animated on every available surface, to their spare and peaceful flower arrangements, I became a sponge for the way Japanese artists and designers expressed themselves, and it challenged the way I view the world.
I have since remained committed to my vision of the micro-seascape and its evolution, not only because of the water’s endless variations that I see as abstract works for the taking, but also because of how I have learned to see our world differently ever since Shimoda. This pursuit has taken me from Japan to the shorelines of northern Maine and its islands, to the beaches and tidal areas of Eastern Long Island, and even to the shores of northern Michigan’s Lake Michigan, as well as some of its smaller crystal clear lakes.
Marsha Owett will exhibit her photographic series “Landscapes Inches Away” at the NY Center of Photography and the Moving Image in October.
580 Eighth Avenue @ 38th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018
DATES: 5 October – 29 October 2011
VERNISSAGE: Wednesday, 5 October 2011, 7 – 9 PM
MUSEUM HOURS: Tuesday through Saturday 1 – 6 PM