Joshua Trees

What some view as sublime, others are quick to destroy. In early 2019, a government shutdown meant that some national parks were without personnel for 35 days; in that time a number of Joshua Trees in the Joshua Tree National Park were damaged by people entering the park unsupervised. With this work, I intend to focus attention on the majestic succulents that have evolved to survive some of the harshest conditions in the Mojave Desert but are easily hurt by destructive persons.

While Ansel Adams is almost a universal inspiration for landscape photographers, particularly those with conservation in mind, I wanted to take additional inspiration from some contemporary artists that do not always adhere to traditional landscape photography. This work is inspired and influenced by artists like: Penelope Umbrico, who adds “imperfections” and “mistakes” like light leaks and flaring to appropriated photos; David Benjamin Sherry, who makes intensely saturated monochromatic landscape photos; and Cody Cobb, whose western desert images have a sense of stillness and serenity. Like those artists, I sought to step away from traditional technical “perfection” to draw attention to the continued preservation efforts of Joshua Trees in and out of the national park.

These twelve images, shot in Southern California’s deserts, are a combination of monochrome and color expired instant film shot through filters to enhance the contrast and color saturation. The original instant prints were scanned, digitally enlarged to 20”x20”, then inkjet printed on archival photo paper.