Changing Woman: Earth & Time
The landscape of northern New Mexico, namely Abiquiu and Santa Fe, represent
a diverse culture enveloped in a robust, open landscape, with lush colors created
through the magnificent endless skies lit by the sun like a fresnel lens spot light.
The clouds are full and plush with a full palette of colors that contrast against the
plains, ceros and desert landscape. The landscape waits for the rain and every
hour brings forth a spectacular visual experience. Cerro Pedernal, one of the
most predominant landmarks in Abiquiu, was often painted by Georgia O’Keeffe.
It is said that she believed if she painted Cerro Pedernal enough times, God
would let her have it. This idea touched me while I was at Ghost Ranch creating
this series, which represents only a fraction of the final prints.
I photographed in O’Keeffe’s backyard, looking for the lavender hills, cedar tree
from 1938, and other landmarks that are easily visible from Ghost Ranch. Having
a book of her paintings with me in the hot sun as I hiked around was a spiritual
experience for me. As I found the objects she painted and considered the
perspective she used, I was drawn to photograph them. Objects around me
began to echo forms in the heavens; dead trees began to have life and power to
hold up mountains. All around me mystical events were evident, as though a
shroud had been lifted from my eyes. There in the middle of this experience,
Cerro Pedernal would be visible, but seemed to always elude me. I couldn’t get
an image of Pedernal that I felt addressed the mysticism of its beauty. Each time
I had an opportunity, I photographed, but to no avail. It was as though Pedernal
had to allow me to photograph her when she was ready to present herself to me.
Finally, the moment happened and she revealed herself in all her majestic glory
in a way that I could not have imagined. Once revealed, I was able to photograph
her with more consistency, revealing new aspects of her character. When I read
the following passage in the book, Full Bloom: The Art & Life of Georgia
O’Keeffe, I understood my experience with Cerro Pedernal and the Abiquiu. “The
Navajo believe that the Pedernal is the birthplace of their “Changing Woman,”
who represents earth and time.” I was photographing sacred ground, ancient in
tradition and something O’Keefe must have been in tune with as well. I decided
that my work represented this idea of earth and time constantly changing,
revealing herself, permitting you in when the time is right.