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Monday, September 24, 2012

AfterShadows, A Grand Canyon Narrative
Pamela Petro
This image and word series stems from my artist's residency at the Grand Canyon in Jan-Feb, 2011. The four large text panels recount the evolution and inspiration of the narrative sequence. It will be available in book form as well as a limited edition print portfolio.

AfterShadows, A Grand Canyon Narrative, 2011-12

I saw absence at the Grand Canyon before I saw presence: Black, blank rivers of shadow cast by the Canyon’s garden of rock formations. More than the spectacular strata, deep time, for me, lay in the shadows—shadows that possessed powers of instant erosion, creating negative space, streaming like tributaries of the night sky down to the Colorado River.

I came to read the shadows as a great sundial—time displayed vertically, pivoting horizontally throughout the day—and told time by their presence. I took their pictures and recorded the hours at which the most iconic shadows were cast.

After returning to the East Coast I printed these immense rivers of blackness on small white beach pebbles collected along the Bay of Fundy, which possesses—in our eon, at least—the strongest, most erosive tides on earth. (The images on the pebbles are actual photographs, printed in the darkroom after I coated the rocks in liquid photo emulsion.)

I then arranged the pebbles in sequences: A “Canyon Clock” that told time throughout a winter’s day at the Grand Canyon; a “World Clock,” in which the pebbles represented different locations on the globe at the same moment.

The next step was to photograph the printed pebbles (“petrographs”) against background elements representing different phases of the Canyon’s development—ash, seawater, vegetation, mud , sand, and beach rocks—and at different times of day.

We all carry shadows, according to Carl Jung: Earlier, interior parts of ourselves we don’t express. What, I wondered, would the earth hide in its shadows? The images in my Grand Canyon Series visualize a rapproachment between questions like that—the stuff of human wonder—and the physical reality of our environment, in which our lives are cupped. Ashes to ashes. Pebbles to sand to sea to ash to rock to us—and back again.

Medium/Processes: Traditional photography; Liquid Light on Beach Pebbles; Digital Photography.