The Beth Moon Interview: Between Earth and Sky
Photographer Beth Moon is releasing her first monograph, Between Earth and Sky, published by Charta, that is a compilation of five projects, featuring images that connect to the natural world. The book celebrates her beautiful platinum prints that are truly other worldly, but her subjects are very rooted in this planet. She is offering the book for sale and in addition, a Collector’s Edition that includes a signed print, also available here. I am featuring a selection of her images in no particular order.
Between Earth and Sky reveals a magical and intuitive appreciation for the ways in which time, memory and nature define our understanding of man’s place in the universe. This book presents five major series of works produced since 1999: “Portraits of Time” ancient and legendary trees from around the world; “Thy Kingdom Come” where totem-like beliefs connect man to animal; “Odin’s Cove” a story of a pair of mated ravens in the wild; “The Savage Garden” the sinister beauty of carnivorous plants, and “Augurs and Soothsayers” portrait-style photographs of exotic chickens. This first substantial monograph reveals the way Moon approaches her subjects from a place somewhere between science and spirit; grounded in reality yet moving to a place universally accessible to others.
Hand-coated platinum/palladium print on water color paper, printed and signed by the artist
Limited edition of 75
Print size: 8″ x 6.25, paper size 9″ x 10″
Custom designed cloth covered slip case with blind embossed title
Born in Novota, California, Beth has gained international recognition for her large scale, richly toned platinum photographs. Since 1999 her work has appeared in over 50 one-person and group exhibitions in the United States, Italy, England, Israel, Dubai, Brazil and France, as well as receiving critical acclaim in major fine art publications. She studied fine art at the University of Wisconsin before moving to England where she experimented with alternative processes and learned to print with platinum. She currently lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The platinum print is an important part of her process as she states here, “With platinum printing, a process born of art and science noted for its beautiful luminosity and wide tonal scale, the absence of a binder layer allows very fine crystals of platinum to be embedded into the paper giving it a 3 dimensional appearance. Unrivaled by any other printing process, platinum like gold, is a stable metal. A print can last for thousands of years, emulating the age of the trees that I was photographing.”
Beth has a number of upcoming shows– an exhibition at Art Toronto, Canada, from October 25-28th, opening at the Corden Potts Gallery in San Francisco November 8th -Dec. 31st, at Artissima, in Torino, Italy from November 8-10 (by invitiation Nov. 7th), at L’Ariete Arte in Bologna, Italy in January 2014, at the Verve Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe Sept-Oct 2014, and the Corden Potts Gallery also Sept-Oct 2014.
Congrats on the book! How did it come about?
I have had a number of exhibitions in Italy over the last couple of years with a wonderful gallery, PH Neutro. The owner of the gallery showed my work to a couple of publishers in Milan and a few days later I received a proposal from Charta. It all happened so fast!
The book is really unique as it showcases a number of seemingly unrelated projects, but they are related by technique, sensibility, and the natural world. What does it mean to you to have these bodies of work combined into a book?
One of the first solo exhibitions I had in London. The gallery owner wanted to combine images from 2 bodies of work. I wasn’t sure at first how they would fit, but seeing the framed prints hanging as a group, I thought they looked cohesive together, maybe for the reasons you suggest. On most occasions I have shown that way ever since, so it seemed natural to take a sampling of each body of work for the book.
Time seems to be an important part of your work–whether the age of a tree or a flower or of your children….
I end up thinking about time quite a lot actually, I am usually aware of how fast it slips by. In general, I think time is a concept that I don’t understand totally, but strive to get some kind of meaning. Certainly it is hard for me to grasp the age of some of the trees that I have photographed, at over 4,000 years old.
I love that your projects celebrate beauty, especially in the natural world–can you speak to that?
I am often in awe, with great appreciation of many aspects of nature, so perhaps it is this emotion that I am trying to capture and translate. I do not simply want to document, but instead record the beauty and enthusiasm that I feel towards the subject when I take the photograph.
Can you tell us about your process?
From the first day I begin to work on a series until the day the prints are drying, usually takes a few years. So many changes occur, thoughts expand, I think you need to know the content inside and out. Some projects fall by the wayside, I usually have at few going at the same time, but the strong ones endure. Sleepless nights are usually a good sign that the project will surface. I jot down notes to start an artist statement right away which serves to keep my thoughts focused. I tape small images onto a large sheet so I can look at them at different times of the day, I like to see how they shape up as a group. I take some down and add new ones. When I feel like I have a large group that works together, I then make medium size platinum prints to check contrast and composition and edit down from those prints.
Do you have an advice to pass on to emerging photographers?
There are so many photographers today and numbers seems to grow. With the increase of talented graduates looking for work, recognition and gallery sales are more difficult. It is always best to have another line of work while you take the necessary time to build a portfolio. Essential qualities: dedication, patience and most of all passion.
Have you found any particular social media effective to promoting your work?
I think a good website is a very useful tool.
Do you still attend portfolio reviews?
I don’t attend portfolio reviews, there never seems to be enough time!
I have a few projects simmering and currently getting ready to travel to South Africa to photograph a few selective baobabs and Quiver trees in Namibia.
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