Art + Science: Nature and Nurture: Howard Lewis
It has been medically proven that when immersed within nature, one’s anger, fear and stress tends to melt away. Nature heals. Even placing a plant indoors can bring one closer to nature. For me, being in the mountains, desert and near the ocean, I can find my personal place of sanctuary. Yet, Mother Nature doesn’t just give and give. She, too, requires nurture. This week in Art + Science, I am featuring work that explores the symbiotic relationship that we have with our natural environment, from connections and personal healing to the challenges we face regarding the health of our planet. –Linda Alterwitz
Howard Lewis is a photographer based in New York. In his series Kinetic Solitude, he captures elements of both turmoil and solitude created by moving waters of the Atlantic Ocean at dusk.
His creative process for this series was an exhilarating experience. He was not positioned on a ledge or cliff looking down onto the water, but rather immersed thigh deep in cold water, all the while assessing the unpredictable movement of the water and looking out for the safety of himself and his equipment.
From fossil hunting as a boy, to windsurfing and sail boating as an adult, Lewis has had a lifelong connection to water. Now he has turned his camera toward the water in order to seek out a different experience- solitude and the act of being present within nature. I asked him the significance of solitude within this work. He responded: “Some people might say it’s a kind of meditation, but I think of solitude when I’m photographing in the ocean as an opportunity to experience life at its fullest, not self-reflection.”
My photographic series “Kinetic Solitude” seeks to create visual imagery that captures the mystery and unforgiving kinetic force of the oceans as darkness settles and signs of people are absent from the field of vision.
The exhilarating, kinetic beauty of the ocean is best experienced in storm-whipped waves in near darkness; at the height of its relentlessness. There is a visual rhythm seen through the lens that becomes somewhat predictable with time and practice; the foam will swirl right, the wave will break soon, white caps will appear by the upper corners of the frame.
When I’m photographing, I am often thigh-deep in cold water with the wind howling. I teeter at the edge of disaster, moving with the waves to get the right amount of visual motion, avoiding getting knocked over in the surf and at the same time protecting equipment. I wait for “contact moments” between and from waves to capture moments of uncertainty. The surface water, the undercurrents, the tides and I are all in motion, and there is only one ideal moment to hit the shutter and capture the right combination of wave and weather elements that creates my desired image.
I chose to print this black and white series emphasizing a maximum range of subtle dark and toned areas in contrast with luminous highlights to depict the character and energy of the ocean. The printing is intended to heighten the viewer’s experience and visualize my appreciation for the power, and the solitude of being present with nature.
The “Kinetic Solitude” Portfolio consists of 50 photographs created at twilight in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Photographed on digital media, the images are produced by the artist in limited editions on museum-quality archival paper.
Howard Lewis is a New York based artist whose artwork explores the concepts of light, form and the perception of time. Through his camera, Lewis strives to capture the dimensional qualities of form as rendered by light, illuminating the texture and age of each subject through the synthesis of photographic elements. He has been a photographer since his teenage years and has worked extensively with large format and various film cameras. He now mostly focuses on digital capture.
Lewis’ photographs have been exhibited in galleries and cultural centers internationally, including the Gladstone Regional Museum and Gallery in Queensland, Australia, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa; the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science in Midland, Michigan; the New York Center for Photographic Arts; the Black Box Gallery in Portland, Oregon; the Courtyard Gallery in Connecticut; and the Grey & Gove Gallery in New York City.
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