Michael Sebastian has a schedule that puts most of us to shame. An Anesthesiologist, a father, husband, and photographer, Michael lives a full life, yet manages to keep his observation skills sharp and his connections to the fine art world, strong. His work was recently featured in Fraction Magazine and is part of the Center for Fine Art Photography’s Fall Portrait Exhibition, curated by Mary Ellen Mark.
Michael’s work reflects a suburban life of manicured lawns and trips to Target, giving us the skeleton of contemporary Kentucky life without the energy of the people who bring it to life. HIs observations and juxtapositions are smartly presented without apology.
For the last six years Iʼve driven a 100-mile round trip to and from my practice—from my suburban home, along a busy stretch of interstate highway through central Kentucky, to my workplace in a small city, and back again at dayʼs end. A lot of nature, marked by the hand of man, has flown by outside the car window, presenting a varying tableau of topographies and seasons. I pass homes small and large, modest and palatial; truck stops, quarries, and industrial sites; rural hamlets and suburban shopping malls. Iʼve stopped frequently, time permitting; or returned later at more leisure, to shoot, with no clear plan other than taking a closer look.
Themes have emerged, though. Iʼve been fascinated by the lines, shapes, angles, patterns, and colors Iʼve observed, abstracted by the speed of my passage. These geometries and forms are the initial visual draw, but there seems always to be something more. Perhaps itʼs merely a certain quality of light. Or an asymmetry or incongruity that jarringly halts oneʼs otherwise frictionless survey of the scene. Or a landscape of such manicured plastic faux-perfection that it discomfits with its suggestion of discontent among material abundance. The resulting images have provoked in me, variously, feelings of satisfaction, amusement, ambivalence, isolation, or even vague menace.
Banal or inconsequential? Inarguably yes, in many cases. But through six years of observation, one canʼt help but take notice of the stuff of oneʼs own world, looking for the beautiful, logical, or meaningful that coexists with the banal or inconsequential. Finding that, and hoping to capture what I see somehow, is what makes me take the next exit ramp to somewhere little known, or return again and again to the same lonely cul-de-sac.
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