The Coast Walk Project

About the Still Lives

81_BioLab_web©I live on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and I beachcomb all year round.  I’m fascinated by the life of the shoreline, and curious about everything I see, from the bedrock to the birds – from ‘what made the hole in this shell’ to ‘what are the old wooden posts just offshore?’ That curiosity has grown into a series of still life photos that I’ve been working on for 5 years, called “The Beachcombing Series,” in which I explore the overlapping forces and life forms that depend on the shoreline.

Each photo in the series documents the things I found on a particular beach on a particular day: the title of each photo is the name of the beach and the date on which I found those objects. My walks on the beach become a poetic transect of the littoral zone, and the items I pick up are points of intersection between myself and the life of the shore – between the fisherman who cut this piece of rope and the bird who dropped this feather and the winds and gyres and wave patterns that left them next to each other in my path. The ways humans use the shore, for industry and for pleasure, combined with the non-human ecosystems that meet and intertwine, and the migration of trash within the watershed and from the sea all create layers on the shore.  The still lives plot those points of intersection, searching for a visual synthesis of all the forces at work and the interconnected usages of the tidal zone.

The crisp white background and the precise arrangements contrast with the odd shapes and rough textures, both highlighting the individuality of each object and unifying them all into a larger composition. Within the grid, I use asymmetrical balance as an organizing principle, trying to express something of the shifting balances I perceive within ecosystems, and syncopation as an expression of the constant change I see from day to day.