For a full screen experience of a Behind the Scenes video click HERE
The project Clay and Ash came as the result of years of travel and exposure to tribal and indigenous cultures around the globe.
Over the past 10 years I have traveled to various places on earth, some more remote than others, primarily to witness the lives of cultures that still preserve elements of their ancestors. My primary focus has been portraiture, and my intention has been to find the beauty in and to get closer to the soul of the subjects I photograph.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different cultures on this planet and I am fascinated by how unique each one is. At the same time I’m amazed by the common threads that bring us all together. In one way or another we are all connected. All humans want to live well, to be loved and to reproduce and continue the cycle. What attracts me about all these cultures is their ability to adapt to unique environments. This is manifested by the dwellings they live in, the food they eat, and--most interesting to me--the clothing and the decorative accessories they utilize.
I want, in pictorial and uplifting ways, to preserve in a moment of time these people and the particular elements of traditional life that make them who they are. I want to give them a place in our memories where they can feel proud of who they are. I do this with the help of various photographic and lighting techniques. Because we live in a world where we glorify celebrities using these techniques, I thought--why not do the same thing with the normal citizens of the world?
I have always been intrigued by the symmetry and balance we find in nature. I feel like geometry exists everywhere; we see geometric shapes from the time we are born, and because we are constantly exposed to them, they make us feel comfortable and give us a sense of order.
When we see geometric shapes, we don't question them because there is no element that creates tension. One of my goals when creating images is to maintain this sense of symmetry while introducing some tension through other elements; this will move the viewer to feel something, and will push them to the edge of their comfort zone.
As an artist, I strive to create something original and unique that I can call my own. The search for that unique view is what pushes me to keep experimenting and looking for a different point of view--the one that will speak with a higher pitch. For me, taking a photograph is one thing, but creating one is a much bigger challenge. Creating a new image means incorporating multiple influences. These can include borrowing ideas from other art forms (like painting, sculpture, movies and writing), reaching out from your dreams, and being influenced by cultures different than your own.
In Clay and Ash, I incorporated the three elements previously mentioned--an interest in indigenous cultures, the beauty of symmetry and geometry, and the need to create a unique photograph. This doesn't come easy and ultimately is a collaborative effort.
Earthy materials and human life come together in this series of portraits of men covered in clay and ash. Following the shapes that we sometimes find in nature brings humans and the land together, and by using earthy materials to cover their bodies, we take away the identity of the individual to focus on the inner spirit and the relationships between them in a graphic way. It is an abstract of how humans interact with their peers.
Inspired by traditional elements of various tribes in Papua New Guinea, I intend to create a narrative that shows the dichotomy between the individual character and the need for community, of being a small part of a bigger whole.