I’m an artist, designer, researcher, woodworker, gardener, and professor. I received my BFA in photography from Bowling Green State University and my MFA from San Francisco Art Institute. I teach photography, digital media, art history, drawing, tools, and Biodesign at the University of Toledo.
My recent personal work is photographic, and is made with an array of imaging technology: high-resolution digital cameras in studios, drones, Micro CT scanners, and computer display capture to create the final images. Each piece is conceived individually, based on research into the scientific, cultural, and photographic importance of each object or place. The resulting prints range from overwhelmingly large to quite small in scale, intuitively referencing historical photographic conventions (landscape, the sublime, and historical scientific imagery). I also make all the frames for the photographs, because, in addition to controlling the quality of presentation, the usage of the frame reinforces the image’s presence, history, and separation from the lived world. Each piece is framed according to its shape - for instance, the round images are displayed in circular frames.
When conceiving my work, I consider questions such as - How does an image arise in the world? What are the necessary conditions and materials needed to make discoveries through images and exploration?
To put it another way, I’m interested in creating images that engage the viewer in the conceit and deceit of the image’s actual construction, while utilizing well-known methods of seductive image creation. As a whole, the work questions the efficacy of being in a place to factually photograph and understand it, and what the exploration of a place, or outer space, means to the contemporary world of photography. Our seen version of the world has been simultaneously explored and photographed while we walk through it, and the photographs I make reach into the previously unseen.
In addition to questioning the action of making factual photographic images, the images scrutinize the materials necessary to perform this work. What materials are extracted from the Earth to create these photographs, and what are the costs to us and the planet? Is the image that results worth the material extraction involved if the facts as presented by the photograph are suspect? As images are increasingly taken as “pure” fact in our culture, I aim to understand and continue to inspect these mechanisms which create persistent cultural narratives.
As a woodworker and image-maker, I am lately increasingly interested in the complexities of the materials of the wooden frames that I make for my photographs. Looking beyond just a named location of the source lumber, what are the criteria that go into harvesting the trees, and has information about the fitness of a tree for its final use been lost through mechanized harvesting? Also, what relationship does the use of a tree for an image have to the health of the forest? Attempting to understand the photographic process as a biological and mechanical process is something I am excited to start to explore in this residency.
It’s very exciting to be part of the 2020 Bridge Residency cohort! I see it as a great opportunity to work with Eric (and perhaps others in this cohort) to explore new ideas, pick up on some simmering ideas in new contexts, and walk a different path from my “normal” work as a scientist and academic administrator.
Scientists and artists alike are explorers of the unknown worlds beyond our current understanding. We may use different approaches and languages to communicate our discoveries, but we share the common goal of illuminating what has not been seen before. In our case, Eric and I have already met three times (via Zoom, of course), and have found common ground in photography and woodworking, complexity and dynamic systems, forests and oceans, and in how to deal with the cognitive dissonance and disconnection between a static photographic image (or more generally, an artefact) and the complex dynamics that characterize the world we live in.
What do I bring to this collaboration? I am an academic ecologist and statistician by profession but find additional creative expression in cooking, photography, sculpture, creative and non-technical writing, and woodworking (examples of all but the cooking are here). For almost 40 years, I have done research on how ecosystems are organized and structured; how plants, animals (including humans), fungi, and microbes interact with one another and their external “environment”; what happens to ecosystems disintegrate when they are “disturbed” by often unexpected “natural” or anthropogenic events; and how they reorganize and restructure themselves following these disturbances. I am particularly interested in how systems behave as they pass through “tipping points”. I have studied these processes and dynamics with simulation models and in the field in person and with many colleagues on every continent. My favorite places to be in are forests - especially the old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, swamps, marshes, and bogs, and my favorite organisms are (in alphabetical order) ants, eastern hemlock trees, mangroves, melastomes, and carnivorous pitcher plants.
A sixteen-week residency will pass very quickly—we’re already two weeks into it—and we’re already thinking about tangible projects. These include  photodocumenting the dynamics of a managed forest stand at the Harvard Forest in the context of stasis and dynamics, growth, logging, (re)use and (re)generation while attempting to capture the rapidly disappearing intuitive human feel for the trees themselves and  a proposal for a session or installation at the 2021 Borrowed Time summit.
Meanwhile, I find time to kayak and bike while working through my obsession with snags.