Esther Macy Nooner: New Vistas: Photographers working with the Landscape
Two years ago I saw Esther Nooner’s work online, and was instantly a fan, knowing that we were kindred artists in our desire to disrupt the traditional and romanticized. This past fall I had the privilege of getting to know Esther and seeing her work in person at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Esther’s work is pleasantly interactive, challenging viewers and participants to look beyond the traditional landscape photograph to consider our own consumption and appreciation of the natural environment. I am featuring two bodies of work today, starting with Well-Worn Landscapes, 2019 and then following with Modified Landscapes, 2018.
Ester states: The exploration of the photograph as a material object is at the core of my studio practice. Because of its representational abilities, photography has provided a reliance on images for truth. The history of landscape representations has established the tradition of Romantic ideologies that, in our current climate, provide a disproportionate view regarding our environment. By pushing the photograph and breaking from the formality, the object presents the viewer with an opportunity to mediate on the yielding of Nature.
Esther Nooner was raised dividing time between Maryland and Arkansas. She spent much of her childhood exploring coastal and rural terrains that provided a fundamental belief in the necessity and importance of Nature to human beings. Historic photographers and travel influence her research and studio practice. She received her M.F.A. in Studio Art from University of Arkansas, School of Art in 2018. She has participated in Artist in Residencies in the National Park System, shown work nationally and internationally and is currently the Studio Coordinator for Photography and New Media at Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
Well-Worn Landscapes, 2019
At the core of my studio practice is the exploration of the photograph as a material object. Breaking away from the ideology of “windows’ and “mirrors” tradition has set, Well-Worn Landscapes treats not only the printed photograph as an object, but also the landscape represented. Historical depictions of Nature, containing the sublime and romantic, are dangerous notions in the current state of our climate. Most of the spaces represented are national or state parks that contain curated paths and views in an attempt to preserve foliage and forests for wildlife but are under the scrutiny of our actions, near and far.
For this body of work willing participants adhered a vinyl sticker containing a printed landscape on their cellphone case. The wear and tear from our cellphone use slowly deteriorated the scene leaving it scared and torn. These marks and erasures made by human activity are not just a visual metaphor but have the potential to be the future reality of Nature. Cellphones are a vehicle for information. We use them to find places to go or search hash and geotags for the best views but this over abundance of information has a toll on the Nature we seek.
Modified Landscapes is a photographic exploration of Nature representations. Rooted in Romantic ideologies, landscape imagery has historically been portrayed as idealized, untouched scenes providing a disproportionate view on the stability of our environment. Through manipulated photographs, this exhibition not only questions the image as information but also how the effect of our decisions add artifice to the environment we inhabit.
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