In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard suggests that "When we examine a nest, we place ourselves at the origin of confidence in the world." The Birdhouses portfolio represents a personal exploration of the relationship between place and identity: meditations on home.
NATIVE GROUND is an ode to my love of reading - to books, to writers and the places that inspire in them the words for things that matter. The photographs are documentary only insofar as they begin in attention to particular writers' personal spaces and native landscapes. What interests me most is how the images can suggest resonance, how places inhabited might be imagined to shape vision and voice.
In 1806, Thomas Jefferson began construction on a personal retreat near Bedford, Virginia, some ninety miles from his home, Monticello. He transformed nearly five thousand acres of pristine farmland and woods into a modestly equipped estate he called Poplar Forest. Jefferson visited Poplar Forest regularly during construction and after the house was complete. He found there, as he wrote to a friend, "the solitude of a hermit." These photographs explore the notion of retreat, of private space, which we all--even a man so great as Jefferson--require and seek instinctively.
These photographs happened in sequence, on a single roll of film, when a very famous artist—a great collector of things—-bought a dusty Rolleiflex at a yard sale and invited three photographers to see if it would work.
September 13, 2008 Rockbridge County, Virginia
From Cy's Rollei Photographs by Sally Mann, Rob McDonald and Even Rogers Nazraeli Press (2010)
One (c) Sally Mann
Two (c) Rob McDonald
Three (c) Even Rogers
Four (c) Even Rogers
Five (c) Even Rogers
Six (c) Even Rogers
Seven (c) Even Rogers
Eight (c) Even Rogers
Nine (c) Even Rogers
Ten (c) Rob McDonald
Eleven (c) Rob McDonald
Twelve (c) Rob McDonald
Once upon a time, I became friends with a great artist who maintained a studio in the rural Virginia town where I live and where he was born. I made many photographs of the artist's home and studio. Despite the quality of our friendship, he was so private, so reticent in most ways, his willingness to permit such access always surprised me. When news of his death arrived, I said goodbye by taking my camera for a final visit to both places.
I am now beginning to work through all of those images by starting at the end. The current series is a study of--and engagement with--marks from the walls of my friend's empty studio.