Hybrid Landscapes is an exploration of nature's relentless adaptation and humankind's instinctual need to alter its habitat. Shot with a 4x5 camera, these images reveal both the fresh, often violent, collision of the natural and synthetic worlds as well as the hidden places where natural reclamation and human influence have found harmony.
In the summer of 2014 I was given the honor of participating in the Golden Apple Art Residency in Harrington, Maine. During the two weeks of the residency I sought to explore the wild environment of rural Maine while remaining aware of human impact on the landscape.
When I first arrived, I was immediately struck by how little evidence of human impact I saw. Upon further exploration, however, the more subversive aspects of human intervention in the landscape began to show themselves. The dense forests of Maine are the result of extensive deforestation and some of the most beautiful landscapes I saw are in highly trafficked and heavily controlled places such as Acadia National Park. I soon realized that human impact on the land is so deeply intertwined with the land itself that it is often difficult to separate the two.
As I moved through those seemingly wild spaces I found objects, both natural and man-made, which I felt represented the places in which they were found. I brought these items back to the studio at the Golden Apple house to build small, intimate still lives that communicated both the disparity of natural forms and human creations while also exploring their inseperable relationship to one another.
Our house had a bit of a mouse problem, as I’m sure many old houses in Grand Rapids do, which was exacerbated by the fact that it had been some time since we deep cleaned our kitchen. Our solution, in addition to keeping our kitchen clean, was to set several traps. The chosen traps were the kind that kill the mouse rather than capture them. We could have used live capture traps but mice are much smarter than we like to give them credit for and must be taken miles away from where they were caught to ensure they do not return. They also proved surprisingly adept at removing the bait from the trap without tripping it but after several days and half a dozen dead rodents our problem seemed to be over.
This got me thinking, why did we kill the mice for simply doing what comes naturally to them? They’re just looking for food and shelter. The fact that they found those things inside our house seems to be more our problem than theirs. However, once they have entered our homes we do what comes naturally to us; that is to protect ourselves from a perceived invader that could potentially carry and spread disease. Were we wrong for acting on our instincts and killing them? Or were they wrong for acting on their instincts and seeking food and shelter in our homes?
The Mouse Trap is a project born from these questions.
I don't often take photos of people, but on a sunny Sunday morning in late October bike polo players from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Canada gathered at the Grand Rapids polo courts to participate in the annual Hallowmeme Bike Polo Tournament. The event featured an eclectic array of polo enthusiasts with heated competition taking a back seat to coming together and having a good time, though competition was fierce.