Through my photography I hope to capture the beauty and sanctity of the present moment, and in doing so, to ask the viewer to engage in rather than disengage from the world around them. By presenting life through a different set of lenses, I hope to introduce others to new perspectives and a world previously unseen.
When my wife and I first moved back to Corning, people would often ask how we liked living here. But in the asking there was always coded language - how were we surviving, why would we leave the life of ex-patriot travelers, and wasn’t our now permanent residence one step removed from a Siberian gulag.
But a truth lurked in the undercurrent, hiding in the murky depths, and I found myself struggling with the conflicting notions of finding a singular place in the world while seeking new ones out. Did I wish to experience the exoticism of a life traveling abroad or did I want to die old and well-remembered in a town I call my own?
In my first solo exhibition, Home, I seek to reconcile this conflict, to show that these are not contradictions, they are not mutually exclusive and endlessly pulling against the other, but rather, flowing together as one.
To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, we tend to think there are two choices in life: settling down or traveling. But, birds need a nest and they still fly. She realized it wasn't either/or - it was both.
I too have come to this conclusion, that they are not only complementary, but essential to giving my life meaning and fulfillment. And as this duality comes into focus, I see these two notions as not only essential, but as merging and coalescing into a definition of home that embraces both a stroll down Market Street and a walk down the passport line in Ataturk airport.
The images selected in Home best represent the mergence of these definitions. From the banks of the Chemung River to the shores of the Indian Ocean, these photographs showcase that which I love of this region, that which this region has given me, that which I hold most dear to my heart, and that which connects all in harmonious spirit. They are the people, places, and moments that endure in my heart.
I hope that these photographs will allow the viewer to reflect on their own definition of home, to see our interconnectedness to the outside world, and ultimately, to see their home in a new light. As the viewer awakens to the beauty that flows through the heart of the Chemung River Valley and beyond, I hope, as Hemingway once wrote, they will feel their heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.
Elmira, NYIn downtown Elmira, the light of the setting sun catches the white facade of the Lake Street Presbyterian Church. There are few things better than when the darkening clouds over the skyline and just the right light merge together to showcase the true essence of a scene. In this case, highlighting an urban lighthouse that serves as a spiritual and architectural foundation for a neighborhood. While it may never be as old as churches across the sea, it is no less magnificent. Tbilisi, GEHigh atop a plateau in Tbilisi, Sameba Cathedral rises up like a beacon. Finished less than a decade ago, it stands among the tallest Orthodox churches in the world. At night its bright lights can be seen from kilometers around. During the day it acts as spiritual mountain to throngs of churchgoers climbing its steps to reach glory on high. After stepping into so many other smaller, more ancient churches, I wonder if standing on the steps of such a behemoth conveys as much splendor. It does.
Ghosts of the Blue MosqueOne of my favorite places in the world lies in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey. Here in the courtyard of the Blue Mosque, tourists and pilgrims alike wander side by side in a harmonic rhythm. It is a place I return to frequently, never growing tired of its symmetrical designs or the mindfulness that enraptures the devoted as the call for prayer echoes out from the minarets and spreads across the city. On one hand I count the places I call home. This is one of them. Ghosts of the Golden Gate BridgeMy first time to San Francisco, I race across the bay to experience the Golden Gate Bridge from as many vantages as possible. Here along Baker Beach, I settle in to capture the glorious bridge and the incoming tide. Over several hours the light shifts the water a luminous blue, the colors of the bridge blaze like a fire, and the Marin highlands rise in defined contrast against the lightening sky. And as the gentle waves lap at their feet, locals and tourists take it all in.
Day into NightAlong the northern California coastline, the town of Mendocino sits at what feels like the edge of the earth. Rocky headlands reach out into the Pacific Ocean while the remnants of promontories long eroded stand as gatekeepers to the endless waters beyond. As the sun dips below the earth, the last burst of sunlight disperses across the horizon line in a wave of orange and yellow. Above, the blue sky transitions into the darkness of night as the stars come out and the waves turn in for the night. Rockwell SunsetAs the sun sets behind the Rockwell Museum, Corning's iconic gateway to the West, it's no longer the familiar red bricked icon that graces the heights above Denison Parkway, but rather, a silhouette of towering angles. Its symmetrical facade cuts across the sky while behind it the dispersed colors of twilight mix with the cooling air of an early Fall sky. Day transitions to night, and the museum, awash in an approaching darkness, stands watch over it all.
Ghosts of Market StreetDowntown Corning comes to life as Market Street closes to traffic for the parade of lights and the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. Crowds gather near Centerway Square to soak in holiday carols as lines of eager children form to greet old St. Nick. People stroll in and out frame. Some try to be polite and move quickly past my camera's gaze, but it's those that linger who win my heart. Like ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, their spirits remain. LincolnAfter a long day of sightseeing we head over to the Lincoln Memorial to catch the sun's last light before it dips below the hills that rise gently above the Potomac River. As the memorial becomes illuminated I focus on the stoic Lincoln sitting in his chair. Using the power of a neutral density filter, the people both stand and move in a quiet reflection that befits the monument to our greatest president. And all the while, he watches over them all with his customary magnanimous grace.
AlazaniPast open range pastures in the eastern region of Kakheti, the wine making home for the country of Georgia, a barn stands at the edge of a vineyard. Beyond it, the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains rise towards the country's invisible border with Dagestan. Feeding into a larger vineyard or for subsistence only, come Fall, this barn like so many others dotting the fertile landscape will play host to a viticultural song that has played out over 8,000 years. It is the beating heart of this country. SolitaryComing to this region, nothing prepares me for the rural landscape. At first the undulating farmlands that cascade over the land are so unexpected. Yet now I can't imagine the vista any other way. Here, north of Geneva in the heights between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, clouds consume the horizon line while below fields of grain and harvested corn stalks gently sway, oblivious to the approaching storm. And in the distance a lone barn stands watch, an outpost keeping sentinel over it all.
Among the FallsIn the fog and misty spray of Taughannock Falls State Park, Tamriko explores as she always does, finding as Bill Bryson would write in A Walk in the Woods, the intersection where people and nature coexist in mutual benefit. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and the trails they have built throughout the gorges of the waterfall fed canyons, represent the very best of this ideal, the enduring mergence of a sacred place that is carved out for generations to come. Among the GiantsDeep in the heart of Montgomery Woods State Reserve, ancient Redwood trees stand tall as guardians of the earth. Dwarfed by the giants around him, a young boy wanders and explores in the distance. Even my extreme wide angle lens can only give hints to the sheer size and breadth of these trees. Made accessible thanks to the prescience of the California State Parks system, this roofless church is a place that defies any rational logic for existing, a place where the profane is allowed to become sacred.
The FanAlready a hardened pro, Tamriko attends her second baseball game. She stares out pensively, quietly eating her snack as she questions the called strike three against the hometown Blue Jays. I am in constant awe of the variety of her facial expressions as they seem to emerge from a bottomless bag of emotions and responses. But in this particular moment, I am astonished at her ability to hold focus with ferocious determination, to become the super fan she is born to be. She is her mother's daughter. Atop TbilisiHigh atop the Narikala Fortress, an ancient and crumbling ruin that has stretched from the 4th Century into the present day, my wife stares into the expanses of Tbilisi's old town. Beyond the winding cobblestoned streets, the Georgian capital unfolds as far as the eye can see. The waters of the Mtkvari River meander through town, making their way towards Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. I too stand for hours on end looking at this view, but in the end it's her that I return to. It always is.
At Rest in the SerengetiA newborn zebra lies down in the grassy plains of the Serengeti before continuing its journey north from Tanzania to the Masai Mara of Kenya. It is one of hundreds of thousands of other zebras and wildebeests brought to life during the Great Migration. Only a few meters away, its mother stands watchful and alert. Unaware of the mother's protective gaze, and the love and devotion that accompany it, the baby zebra rests until it is time to rise and resume its trek north. At Rest in the Southern TierTamriko rests in her mother's arms. Swaddled and wrapped in a blanket's warmth, she peacefully sleeps. Over a month since she comes into this world, Tamriko remains blissfully unaware to how tight her mother's arms hold her, unaware of the fear and trembling that accompany the previous ten months she is in utero, unaware of the second by second thoughts to her well-being, and unaware now of the love and devotion that will seek to protect her at all costs.
Rockwell StormOn a cool, early Fall day, stormy clouds soar over the Rockwell Museum and into some great beyond high above town. Cars streak down the road like ghosts unleashed from a supernatural purgatory. Using a neutral density filter, I step into a secret, quantum realm. The image exists in two planes at once, moving yet still, and serves as the perfect mechanism to showcase the swift and beautiful clouds that race across the sky from one end of the Chemung River Valley to the other. St. PetersburgThe Winter Palace. Next to it the Admiralty Building. Beyond this the Hermitage. Across from them, the Peter and Paul Fortress. Flowing between them, the Neva River on its way to the sea. And above, clouds. Endless Spring clouds. Rolling in like ocean swells. Occasional moments of calm fill in the air, and in these, sunlight emerges to cast down upon the golden domes of St. Petersburg, Russia. Already light until 10pm, the northern sky is readying for Summer and the white nights to come. Little Joe StormThere's something about this valley and the river that flows through it that causes the most glorious of cloud formations. And more often than not the clouds rise right up and over Little Joe Tower. My preferred vantage from atop the parking garage in downtown Corning offers a perfect platform to watch as the clouds boil in the air. They swarm the vista, shadowing the hillside as a darkness covers the early morning sky. A patch of blue threatens to intercede, but it is quickly swallowed by the encroaching clouds. Clouds Over SenecaBefore moving to Corning, our trips stateside are usually so quick and purposeful that the Finger Lakes are nothing more than a rumor scattered in the breeze. Not until moving here do I finally bask in their glory. And as with so many others who have come before me, Watkins Glen serves as my entry to these glacial echoes of an age since passed. It's here that endless layers of clouds move in over Seneca Harbor. Like a comforting blanket, they welcome me in to share in their wonders. MoscowSaint Basil's Cathedral stands at the far end of Red Square. To the right Comrade Lenin's Tomb and the Kremlin. On the left, an upscale shopping mall. And above, the Moscow sky ushering in cloudy skies and the omnipresent cold that binds the Russian world together for nothing speaks to Russians more than the approaching winter. For all my conflicted feelings towards Russia, there is no doubt that it is every bit as beautiful and powerful as the Russian Czars intend. Centerway StormThe reconstructed and resurrected Centerway Bridge. It traverses the Chemung River, connecting the two sides of Corning. On this early Fall day, blustery gray clouds consume the sky. Using a neutral density filter, the clouds race over the bridge, seemingly stretching from some infinite point out beyond the hillside. That's how people often view the winter and the gray and low lying clouds that accompany it - that they stretch into infinity. It's an infinite I could fall into forever.
JvariAs a gathering front lingers in the air, the sky opens up ever so slightly to usher in the sun's rays. They peek their way through the clouds that rise above the 5th century Jvari Monastery and shine upon the valley below. Located high upon a rocky bluff overlooking the Mtkvari River and the old capital of Mtskheta, I see the church for the first time as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I see it many times since and always it defines the landscape as an unmistakable, welcoming icon. It tells me always that I am home. CenterwayThe first time I see this tower, I am visiting Corning during Thanksgiving with my future wife. A week later I will move back to Georgia. Our car enters town late at night, but insistence demands we turn off Denison Parkway and onto the glowing arms of Market Street. In this moment I fall in love with a town that I never imagine I will one day call home. And in the middle of it all is the Centerway Clock Tower. It defines the cityscape then as it does now. It tells my wife she is home. It tells me the same.
Maro BeboMaro Bebo. Grandmother Mariam. Neighbor to my Peace Corps counterpart, part of the extended family of the village of Velitsikhe that adopts us. Her smile extends an amused skepticism, an encouraging doting, perhaps wondering who the strange Americans have brought with them this time. Her creases and lines tell stories of a life long lived, a life soon coming to an end, and a life, that for her, only exists in the present. She has since passed and I miss her smile greatly. The WonderAs my daughter greets her shadow for the first time, I am once again staggered by how she tackles each new mystery with such a sense of wonder and sanctity. So in tune with the present moment, it's as if by some divine intervention that all other distractions fade away. Every time she embraces the open arms of discovery, life for her begins anew. Now nearly two years old, this spark carries on. I hope it never diminishes, that this is only the beginning, and that it will forge onward forever and ever.
God of Stone TownThe island archipelago of Zanzibar lies off the coast of Tanzania. Here, water is life. In the heart of Zanzibar is Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's as different from the mainland as one can get. The call to prayer fills the air from an array of neighborhood mosques while humidity from the Indian Ocean and the smells of the daily catch mix with spices traveling in from inland bazaars. And along the waterfront, the town's young men soar through the air like gods from above. Queen of TremanTucked into the outskirts of Ithaca, Treman State Park epitomizes that which makes the Finger Lakes so unique. Frigid, waterfall fed pools, intricately carved stonework, and sunbathers come together in a symphony of summer delight. As the afternoon sun warms the water and as many jump and swim to their heart's desire, a majestic queen floats off the diving board against the backdrop of the falls. She looks back as if from a bygone era, giving her approval to the watchful eyes of her court.
The BrideA wedding ceremony in a Georgian Orthodox church. In the final months of my Peace Corps service, for every thing I come to know each newly unraveled layer reveals mysteries that remain just as distant as the first. Like many other experiences in this country, it is one filled with customs that remain foreign to my own and I am left grasping at its meaning. And so I watch, transfixed as the bride holds her candle perfectly still, allowing the sanctity of the moment to light the darkness. Out of the PastAs the lights come on and the smoke clears, a model emerges from a world teeming with mystery and darkness. Out of some Hollywood noir, she appears like a specter, ready to walk for the Recycled Runway fashion show to benefit The ARTS Council, my employer. Left swimming in a fog of uncertainty and anxiety after my departure from Georgia, this organization, and the community that comes with it, lifts the veil cast over me. I never could have imagined it, but I have found a home at The Arts Council.
Notre DameThe Notre-Dame Cathedral in downtown Montreal startles and illuminate as few churches do. Its formidable and gothic outer shell do nothing to prepare me as I step inside the church's entrance. Colors burst forth from every nook and crevice. Dazzling lighting reflects and highlights the brilliantly stained pews, polished stone floor, and intricately carved altar. Graciously allowing me to use a tripod to bring in all the available light, I eagerly capture the splendor and sanctity before me. The Park ChurchFrom abolitionism to suffrage to present day open and affirming, the Park Church's storied history is inspiring enough, but it's only when I first step inside its sanctuary do I become truly humbled. I expect sanctums such as this in European capitals, but not here, not in a small, Southern Tier town. It is among the most perfectly realized and beautiful churches I have ever been in, one that inspires and stirs an awakening in the soul, one whose symmetrical lines converge and lead towards a pulpit of enlightenment.
SamebaWhen I stand on the steps of Sameba Cathedral, I can't help but feel the audacity of its undertaking, its quest to be a beacon for all to see. With a rooftop as high as a football field is long, it harnesses the night unlike any other. On this particular evening, as the sun casts its light across the ether, a full moon rises above the Georgian capital. Brilliant gold then blinding white, the reflected sunlight acts like a spotlight shining down upon the cathedral. We are bathed in shadow and light. Red Moon, Red ChurchA super moon and lunar eclipse converge into a blood colored ball of delight. Knowing that the full moon often traverses across Corning's First Methodist Church, it will be my last stop of the night. Hoping the moon will stay true to its projected trajectory, I wait there in nervous anticipation. But soon the clouds part and the moon rewards my patience by bursting forth red past the rooftop spires. Like stepping into a medieval painting passed down throughout millennia, the sacred and the profane merge as one.
SkogafossWaterfalls are everywhere along the southern coast of Iceland, none more inviting than the towering waters of Skogafoss. Thundering nearly two hundred feet downward into a black stone creek bed below, tourists in colorful winter coats stand in contrast to a landscape shrouded in cloud cover. With a neutral density filter, and the long exposure that accompanies it, the waters exist as they have for millennia, flowing eternally yet always in the present to the viewer at hand. Taughannock FallsOften no more than a trickle in November, heavy rains surprise as they cause the waters of Taughannock Falls to barrage downstream. The final burnt colors of Fall are veiled beneath the darkness of an overcast day. A light rain dampens the wooden bridge and the smooth, exposed rocks of the riverbed. The canyon above, once extending to the shores of Cayuga Lake, continues to recede against the raging waters. But, here, down below, it is quiet and serene. Of all the waterfalls in our region, it is my favorite.
The Ring RoadAs storm clouds clear and sunlight floods the mountains and pastures surrounding Eyjafjallaj'kull Glacier, the ring road of Iceland stretches to an infinite beyond. The only road circling the island, we stop to enjoy the view while Tamriko nurses. At seven months she has her first overseas passport stamp, and with it, her membership to a life of international adventure. As this exhibit ends another stamp awaits as we will be on the road once more. It is our home, and now, it's becomes hers as well. The Low CountryOn the borderlands of Wilmington Island, Turner Creek winds towards the Bull River, and beyond that, the inlet disappears into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Billowing clouds rise above the endless salt marshes and tributaries of the Savannah Low Country. My birthplace, it will always be home, always there to draw me into its welcoming arms. Just as the tides ebb and flow, and the waters return to the sea from which they come, so too do I return back to the Low County, back to my home.
Youth, AmericaOn a beautiful summer evening, the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA plays on as it has for nearly 60 years. Youth perch high above the cardboard sled covered hillside, the field, and the packed to capacity stadium. They live out a ritual long since practiced, regaling stories of daring do and courage, of near misses and victories pulled from the brink of seeming disaster, of summers past and summers future, their lives unparalleled by the world below them. They are gods atop a diamond throne. Youth, GeorgiaOn a scorching summer day, youth rest high atop a rocky outcropping buttressing the edge of the 4th Century Narikala Fortress. With the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in siege below them, stuck in a standstill by months long street protests, they partake in a ritual long since endured, resting in crevices hallowed out by their predecessors. Removed from the realities below them, they exist in a bubble of their own making, unbridled by the uncertainty that lies below. They reign like the Gods of old.