Fine Art Photography Daily

Todd A. Stewart: First Light, Last Day of Summer

Todd Stewart created a wonderful series, The Garden, that explores his children’s relationship to the natural world and today’s post is an extension of that exploration. Todd’s a gifted seer and has captured some wonderful portraits of his children.  These two images in particular just slay me.

For many years Todd’s concerns as an artist have centered on the relationships between history, myth, and culture. The project that I am featuring, First Light, Last Day of Summer, represents a growing exploration of the American Landscape and a continued examination of the question: does place hold memory?

Todd began his career as photographer working for advertising and design clients in Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia. In 2004, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana University. Since that time, he has been an Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Imaging at the University of Oklahoma. Todd is author of the book Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment, published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2008, the work is a contemporary examination of the ten Japanese American internment sites of World War II. Stewart’s photographs have been exhibited widely throughout the United States, recognized by museum curators at the The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Photographic Arts, Santa Diego; and publication editors including those from Aperture and the New York Times Magazine.

A few years ago I made a photograph of my son playing in his grandparents backyard. The image, taken on the first day of summer vacation became part of the series, The Garden – A body of work centered on my children’s evolving relationship with the natural world and in particular the moments of discovery and revelation I observed as they each searched for their own place within it. First Light, Last Day of Summer is an extension of these concerns. It began as an exploration of the natural areas my family and I encounter everyday -The spaces that define our knowledge of the world, the places that inform our understanding of who we are, and the landscapes that we call home. These are complex spaces – liminal spaces – that exist somewhere between our desire for Eden and our cultural fear of the unknowable. As the moments of discovery I observed in the Garden are slowly replaced by a growing awareness of this ambiguity, I know as a father that this is the space my children will soon inhabit.

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