Adam Davies is a photographer whose work focuses on traces of human presence in natural landscapes. He uses a large-format Canham camera—complete with accordion bellows and hood—then has the film developed and scans his images in order to make large-scale (up to 32 x 40 inches) digital prints.
In the past, Davies often shot in and around the decaying industrial cities of the northeast. In his images, eroding remnants of industry vie for space with the creeping natural growth that appears to be slowly overtaking them. But the impulse behind the photographs doesn’t seem to be a strictly documentary one, nor can the viewer easily locate any implied critique of or rebuke to the way in which cities and industries make use of the land.
The horizontally disposed southwestern landscape represents a new venture for Davies. During his residency, he scouted and shot in a large swath of West Texas, from Pecos to the north of Marfa to Presidio on the Mexican border. Davies showed eleven photographs from a larger body of new work at his exhibition at the Locker Plant.
The large format, and Davies’ attention to color and texture, give his pictures an almost tactile quality; they are as alive to the senses as paintings. A picture of a bridge or overpass illustrated the way Davies’ photos refuse pictorial convention. The bridge spans the image just above the center line. Above the span is a sloped array of hoodoo-like rock formations. Below the span is a lush stretch of river or creekbank. The three “strata” depicted—rocks, bridge, creek—don’t seem to belong in the same photo. Yet they’re clearly not spliced together. The picture doesn’t come together in any conventional way.
Many of the photos sowed a similar seed of doubt or confusion, sometimes temporal as well as topographical. Two images of desert flats after a summer thunderstorm—full of soaked earth and soggy weeds—evoked sepia-toned battlefield pictures as much as classic landscape photography.
Adam Davies received a BFA in Studio Art and a BA in History from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University. He also has a Masters in Education from Harvard University and a Masters in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon. He has received a number of awards, including residencies at Yaddo in 2008 and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA in 2008-09. He has shown his work in solo exhibitions in Pittsburgh and Somerville, MA and participated in numerous group shows at venues in the U.S. and abroad. The spring 2009 edition (#6) of the web-based arts magazine Triple Canopy features a portfolio of his photographs.
The Chinati Foundation's Artist in Residence program is generously supported by the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and the Chinati Contemporary Council. Chinati is grateful for the generous financial support of our members and the support and in-kind contributions of the people of Marfa.