Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sheila Newbery's "Ohio Woods"

Sheila Newbery, Nest, 2013

As I compile images for a lecture I will give next week in Cincinnati and eye the new fallen snow outside, Sheila Newbery's Ohio Woods is on my mind. From Sheila's artist statement:

"Ohio Woods is a selection of platinum-palladium prints of images made during a cross-country journey by train. The route was from New York City to San Francisco via Chicago: the first leg of the trip took us winding up the Hudson Valley on a spectacular January afternoon, but the brilliance of the day was soon obscured by heavy clouds sailing in from the west. By the time we reached the Ohio border, we were rolling through the woodlands under a veil of twilight snow; the train had slowed because of poor visibility; and everything had softened to a kind of translucence. I had an idea about how to make a few pictures..."

I only knew forest before moving to Indiana. Everything is dense in the Northwest and woods were not part of my periphery. Conifers are not the primary foliage here and the act of seeing through trees to parts of the landscape beyond, still startles me. The absence of leaves in the winter is stark and unwelcoming. It, coupled with the flat horizon, is deathlike in appearance. Perhaps that is why I searched for Robert Kennedy's funeral train photographs when I first encountered Sheila's work. Photographing this particular mode of transportation also recalls a less abstract version of Sharon Harper's Flight.

Ohio Woods is a close inspection of the view outside my window until late April in Indiana. It is Nancy Rexroth's Iowa in remembrance of Ohio. It is Masahisa Fukase's grainy trees without the ravens.  It is also on view in San Francisco this month. See it if you are there.

From the series Ohio Woods (all photos courtesy of Sheila's website).

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