A Grand Canyon Narrative
By Pamela Petro
Northampton, Massachusetts: Pamela Petro, 2014. Edition of 50.
7.5 x 9.25" lidded box with four accordion-pleated text segments and 29 image cards. Medium/Processes, in sequence: Traditional photography; Liquid Light on Beach Pebbles; Digital Photography. Book case and cover design by Amy Borezo. Signed and numbered by the artist on the colophon.
AfterShadows derives from Petro's Artist in Residence stint at the Grand Canyon in January-February, 2011.
Pamela Petro, blog: "I saw absence at the Grand Canyon before I saw presence: Black, blank rivers of shadow cast by the Canyon's garden of rock formations. More than the spectacular strata, deep time, for me, lay in the shadows-shadows that possessed powers of instant erosion, creating negative space, streaming like tributaries of the night sky down to the Colorado River. The raw material of wonder.
"I came to read the shadows as a great sundial-time displayed vertically, pivoting horizontally throughout the day-and told time by their presence. I took their pictures and recorded the hours at which the most iconic shadows were cast.
"After returning to the East Coast I printed these immense rivers of blackness on small white beach pebbles collected along the Bay of Fundy, which possesses – in our eon, at least – the strongest, most erosive tides on earth. (The images on the pebbles are actual photographs, printed in the darkroom after I coated the rocks in liquid photo emulsion.)
"I then arranged the pebbles in sequences: A 'Canyon Clock' that told time throughout a winter's day at the Grand Canyon; a 'World Clock,' in which the pebbles represented different locations on the globe at the same moment.
"The next step was to photograph the printed pebbles ('petrographs') against background elements representing different phases of the Canyon's development – ash, seawater, vegetation, mud , sand, and beach rocks – and at different times of day.
"We all carry shadows, according to Carl Jung: Earlier, interior parts of ourselves we don't express. What, I wondered, would the earth hide in its shadows? The images in my Grand Canyon Series visualize a rapprochement between questions like that – the stuff of human wonder-and the physical reality of our environment, in which our lives are cupped. Ashes to ashes. Pebbles to sand to sea to ash to rock to us – and back again."