Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Does a parasite know that it’s a parasite?

All works in series are untitled.

One of photography’s inherit and unique properties is its ability to harness the duality of believability and obfuscation. This alone makes it unique among the arts, which are otherwise only capable of presentation (versus representation). Even a painter that works directly from a subject in front of them creates a product that is understood as an interpretation–an amalgamation of paint, canvas and the artist’s technical ability. We see these things first, before we are able to relate ourselves and to “experience” the subject. In photography, however, the viewer almost always accepts what they see first because the photograph is a recording of something in front of the camera and because photographs, for more than a century, have been both the currency and language of history. That said, a photograph has at least as much potential to lie to the viewer as any of the plastic arts. When the photographer frames, they carve away from reality and begin to manipulate what they see for their own aims. These are not light decisions and they form the basis for this body of my work.

Though all of the images in this series are “straight” photographs, many of them play with the viewer’s understanding of what they see. A photograph of a seemingly serene scene may in fact have been photographed on the edge of a toxic waste dump, a photograph of something that looks like a perversion of nature may in fact be an image of mitigation efforts meant to protect or preserve it, etc. The viewer is encouraged to explore each image individually and interpret for themselves what impact they see.


Artist Statement:

Many years ago, as a child on a family camping trip along the Mississippi River, I remember waking up just before dawn. With my family still asleep, I quietly slid out of the tent and stood at the edge of the river, listening and watching. An entrancing fog lay suspended over the water, gently undulating. I was captivated. I felt attached to the scene in a way that I hadn’t felt outside before; there was a certain harmony to the moment that I envisioned myself a part of—a unison even. Slowly though, I began to feel the uncomfortable sand between my toes. I became aware of the distant factory lights twinkling. A bleating barge passed, and the river parted. The fog disappeared as the sun rose. I was once again a part of the human world, where I had always been.           

This was the first time, that I can recall, where I felt like something of a usurper. I recognized suddenly that all of the comforts which I took for granted came at the expense of something else. I understood that the removal humans desired from nature had the capacity to completely overwhelm the natural environment, and I thought that this was odd. Most other animals do not function in this way; all species have a biological imperative to reproduce (down to a cellular level, in fact), but seldom do so in a way that outstrips their environments. Only an animal introduced to an environment that is alien to them will do this—an invasive species or a parasite. Ours is a peculiar pathology.       

Does a parasite know that it’s a parasite? is a body of work focusing on the concept of naturedness (good- vs. bad-, nature vs. anti-nature, authentic vs. inauthentic) with no geographic assignment. The photographs are a non-linear meditation on the impact of people on the environment and upon society’s legacy of built structures. The series is not straightforwardly negative or critical, just observing and questioning. 

What is humanity’s role in our changing planet? What is our responsibility? Does the parasite understand it’s effect on the host, or is it just following biological necessity?



The images for this series were photographed with a singular concept in mind, however, they originated in a way that is non-linear. Some of the work was shot while on vacations throughout the United States over many years, while others were photographed initially for editorial assignments, and still others were photographed just steps from my front door. In all of these situations, I recognized the potential in certain scenes to express the fundamental questions of this body of work, which will likely be expanded upon throughout my lifetime.



The majority of my exhibited work is presented in the familiar “narrative” layout, which puts one work after another work in a straight line spanning the venue’s walls. This series is necessarily different, as the intention is for the viewer to spend time with each work individually (differently than as a chapter in a story) and to explore and make discoveries for themselves–much in the same way that I did while making the images. The viewer can walk a straight line or break away and investigate something that catches their eye across the room. There is no beginning or end to the layout. The images are likewise printed using divergent techniques, including digital chromogenic printing, dye sublimation, instant film, and pigmented ink, are scaled across a wide range from business card size up to 24 x 36 inches, are framed and matted, pinned to the wall, or held in place with magnets, and finally, are displayed in a way that breaks the straight-line approach.

Does a parasite know that it’s a parasite? is on display at Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri through February 11, 2023. Gallery hours and information are available here.


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