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Wheat 2014 Form

Artist Statement: Wheat

Neal Rantoul

I first started photographing in the Palouse area of southeastern Washington in the mid 90’s and have been back most years since. It is my longest running project.

The work has evolved over the years, going from first black and white to color, from large format to digital, and from being based on the ground to including pictures made from the air. I have also photographed the area through the seasons.

In earlier writing about the project I referenced some of the great contemporary landscape photographers such as Robert Adams and Joe Deal, who was a good friend, and also cited Eugene Atget for the single mindedness of his intent. As a career artist I work in many different genres but this is the one that is perhaps the core vehicle of expression for my landscape work. While it has been challenging to find new approaches to this most wonderful of places, it also has been a privilege. Looking back at so much work now, I see more subtle changes from the earlier days to the present for I believe some of the basic principles in working there still apply: it is a landscape almost without scale due to few trees and little to reference size, the pictures can convey the movement of the wheat in the breeze at the same time as show the stillness and static nature of the topography, allowing photographs that convey sharpness and blur due to movement in the same image simultaneously and finally, in the more recent work since about 2000, colors, on their own, but also in relationship to each other.

I am very excited by the newest work from the summer of 2014, as it represents a shift in intention with an evolved sense of the fields' function and their form where the work is perhaps its most abstract. Some of this work references the place by including a barn, a farm machine or trees, while some does not. Hence: Function and Form, the title for the new work. Function and Form constitutes a subset, which is, I hope, a powerful one, of the overall work made over the two-week shoot.

Neal Rantoul

July 2014



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