Iconic Places: Mirrors of Magical Light opened on October 26, 2018 at Gallery XII in Wichita, Kansas.
Throughout common visual vocabulary, there are certain places that have achieved iconic status. These are most often places which have, over many years, impressed humankind with the stunning natural beauty of mountains, the sea, forests, or plains. In my life I have been fortunate to be able to visit or live near many such places, drawn, like so many others, to the visual feast spread so lavishly before us.
The challenge for the artist is to work with these places and moods, turning them into images that evoke a similar response in strangers who have not shared those exact same moments, yet have lived vicariously through similar experiences, and thus identify strongly with them.
As a photographer, I work mostly in landscapes, having grown up in the out-of-doors hiking, back-packing, and skiing. A life-long interest in the natural sciences (indeed, my initial college major was geology) surely informs the way in which I view the world round me. Therefore, with a few exceptions, the images here presented are intended to show the beauty of our natural world at its best, most glorious, and most inviting. I think it is these qualities that contribute to scenic locations we’d commonly consider iconic. Therefore, I set for myself the challenge of working toward an image set that I thought best exemplified the concept of iconic places.
For the landscape photographer, one of the much sought-after mystiques of our craft is what many consider ‘magical light’. Though there are exceptions, such light is rarely found under harsh, mid-day sun. Instead, we prefer the hour either side of sunrise and sunset, or under overcast or foggy conditions. These situations create a wider range of moods – hence the magic – than the bright sun and hard shadows in the middle of the day. The resulting images will usually be more emotionally satisfying. I created the majority of the photographs herein presented at the edge of day or at night.
There are many such locations around the world, but this exhibition is necessarily restricted in two ways: the limitation of places where I’ve physically set foot to photograph, and, from those locations, a small subset of images that are deserving of exhibition. In the first instance, the list of places I’ve been is rather lengthy. Some locations rapidly fell off my list as the imagery was either outdated or of a quality that no longer represents my present level of photographic competence.
© John Ellert Photography