Navigating Personal Landscapes
This work is a series of self-portraits where I have blended my body into a selection of personally significant landscapes. With each image, the merging of subject and land tells a story about the relationship between myself and the land I traverse, and simultaneously speaks about humanity and the land we occupy. Each posture I embody is in response to the landscape. They are meant to complement one another through the ways my body and earth converge. Each image demonstrates a unique visual texture by using different editing techniques to combine the components. This visual texture serves as a form of camouflage that connects me to a more natural state. I am hiding in a place where I feel comfortable, but, as a human, am no longer intimately connected to. I believe our modern relationship to land is disconnected. Historically land has been colonized and claimed, used and drilled to provide resources and profit. Now it often feels like an afterthought.
This series was inspired by my personal journey to connect with nature. Having been raised in a small, southern Texas ranching town, I have always been drawn to the natural world. The land inspires me to channel certain aspects of myself. While alone in nature I feel a range of responses: loneliness, strength, resilience, uncertainty, and even loss. The land creates physical space for me to connect with these feelings and the time to work through them. These images are both therapeutic and celebratory in how I relate to them.
My goal with this project is to confront my identity on my own terms, as far from the distractions and constraints of modern society, where I often feel pressure or anxiety to conform as possible. Traversing these landscapes help me navigate these issues. They are like a silent guide to my inner psyche. It provides pause where I am able to be myself.
The landscapes in this series were photographed while travelling on a road trip from Texas to Colorado, to Utah, and to California. I took time to engage and notice how I felt while taking each one and used that as a way to depict my connection to the specificity of each location.
This work is an ongoing project. I will continue to struggle with the complexities of my identity as I continue to grow. But as I change, the landscape will continue to guide me. We exist together; it gives me a foundation to navigate my own personal landscape.
Eventually I would like to extend this project to incorporate other subjects and create visual representations of their own connections to land that is important to them. By combining portraits with emotionally significant places and drawing inspiration from those places, I aim to materialize the connection between individuals and natural landscapes that otherwise only exist abstractly.