Photographer Gary Cawood imagines himself as an archeologist of sorts. An exhibition of photos from his ongoing "Excavation" project opens Friday at Camerawork in Scranton.
In his artist’s statement, he explains what drew him to the surface scars man has made on the natural landscape.
"I selected sites that were excavated long ago, and at first I focused on the surprising forms and colors created by erosion. Soon I began adding throwaways to the compositions," he offers. "Like the land, much of the stuff we buy is considered disposable and makes its way to sites like these. The photographs utilize the scarred landscape as a context for the stuff we abandon."
The artist turned to photography after first studying architecture. He’s been teaching university courses since the late ’70s and is currently the head of photography at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He’s enjoyed more than 60 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group exhibitions throughout the United States and had his work recognized with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.
He selected the title "Excavation" for its implication of digging in a ruin for ancient artifacts.
"While archeologists try to reconstruct a logical narrative from discarded objects, my purpose is to create a more poetic interpretation," he wrote. "I carefully select the items to be included in the compositions, based on an intuitive sense of the contradictions inherent in our culture."
Describing his work as an intentionally haphazard still life of mud, rocks, and ash with a time-eroded artifact of cultural waste, he shoots his compositions over time, capturing various stages of deterioration. A message cautioning against the careless footpath of human destruction on the environment is quiet but intended.
"Art gives us the opportunity to imagine order where none is apparent," he concludes.
Excavation: Photographs by Gary Cawood will remain on display through Jan. 31. Friday’s opening reception is scheduled to run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in conjunction with First Friday Scranton.
Camerwork is located in the lower level gallery at Marquis Art & Frame on Center Street in Scranton. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.cameraworkgallery.org for more information.