Ellen and Steve are life partners and collaborators in fine art photography. Their photographic collaboration began during their global travels and now sustains them at home and nearby surroundings. Steve’s eye for geometry, structure and macro perspective provide a strong foundation while Ellen’s focus on texture, color and narrative soften and lay bare the more personal meaning and emotion. Much of their approach builds on the groundbreaking New Topographics of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz and others and the central idea that anthropogenic landscapes embody both intrinsic beauty and cultural significance. Their work captures both the rhythm and repetition as well as the ruptures of the resultant landscape. The juxtaposition of the two brings into focus harmony and antagonisms in interactions between humans and the natural world and inspire conversation about the artistic and societal lessons to be learned from the hyper-functional and yet always personal scenes that surround us.
Increasingly, their printing and finishing amplifies their photographic intent. Much of their work is printed on crafted and even handcrafted fiber papers that they then encase in wax. One of their pieces, printed on their own hand-crafted paper was a semifinalist in an International Exhibition at Awagami’s ‘Hall of Awa Japanese Paper Museum’ in Japan. Two of their projects, Fertile Ground and Between the Rows are being featured in a Israel Museum Council salon hosted by the Director of the Israel Museum. Their work has received many awards and been exhibited broadly in galleries in California, throughout the U.S. and Japan.
Two-thirds of our nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown in the “Fertile Ground” of California. Our photo project focuses on and pays homage to the farm lands of the state’s Central Coast, where much of this incredible bounty is produced. Printed in black and white on Kozo paper infused with wax, the images depict endless arrays of nascent seedlings peeking out from the rich black soil through plastic pathways along rolling hillsides bathed in fog. The viewer can experience the vistas of rhythm and repetition, the lines and life, and the arcs of water and hoop houses that loom across the horizon.
These scenes of wonder also connote “factories in the field”. Increasing automation and technological innovations have reduced the need for workers and limited water resources. Sustainability issues, despite innovations in crop management and irrigation are ever present. Our photographic approach builds on the groundbreaking New Topographics of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz who highlighted the idea that anthropogenic landscapes embody both intrinsic beauty and cultural significance. Work by Mark Klett, Lewis Baltz and their contemporaries continues to inspire this conversation about the artistic and societal lessons to be learned from the bucolic and yet hyper-functional scenes that surround us in the American West.