Monday, November 12, 2007
Robert Glenn Ketchum - Master Of Transitions
How crisis became opportunity for one of North America's most celebrated landscape photographers
The new work that he has begun is perhaps more an embodiment of Ketchum as an artist than the landscape work for which he's known. As a student of Robert Heinecken at UCLA in the 1970s, Ketchum's artistic sensibilities were certainly influenced by the exploration and rule-breaking that typified that period in the art scene.
Heinecken is quoted as saying in 1974, “I am interested in what I term ‘gestalts,' picture circumstances, which bring together disparate images or ideas so as to form new meaning and new configurations.” This quote is a terrific introduction to the concept behind what Ketchum is now pursuing. The first work in his new direction, Turn, Turn, Turn, began with a scanned slice from an earlier work of Ketchum's, with which he experimented in Photoshop before arriving at the final composition. Other new works build even further on this idea; Choose Joy and Navigating the Dark Wood of Error both incorporate fragments of earlier work—deconstructed, reimagined and reassembled into new forms with deep personal meanings for the artist.
“I'm seeing my work in a new way,” says Ketchum, “much more in the way I think painters look at their work, personified by Picasso, who we refer to as having work in different ‘periods' of his life. Picasso thought absolutely nothing of going off in a new direction because it seemed like a good idea to him, and embracing a new style and doing it—and well. And I like that model.”
Ketchum's willingness to reinvent himself is paying huge dividends. The positive mindset not only made it easier to let go of the hostility of his divorce and instead enter into an amicable mediation, but also addressed his professional challenges in terms of learning the digital skill set he needed and imagining new ways to push the boundaries of his embroidery enterprise.
The new creative direction allows Ketchum a playfulness as he explores the possibilities and learns new techniques in Photoshop. And the results are producing images that will again put him at the forefront of creativity in the increasingly competitive photographic embroidery techniques he helped pioneer.
“I threw all rules out the window when I started working digitally,” Ketchum explains. “I didn't want any confusion between the new digital work and the stuff that has a scientific basis and can't be questioned in terms of whether it has been altered or not. I'm not trying to synthesize any real landscape; this is a dreamscape, and it's autobiographical.”
To see more of Robert Glenn Ketchum's photography, visit his Website at www.robertglennketchum.com.
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