I am very pleased to be included in this international photography festival, Noorderlicht, which takes place annually in the Netherlands. 115 photographers from 36 countries will be shown at "Terra Cognita, an exhibition about the relation between man and nature. How do we experience nature, and what is its value for us? Our romantic longing for pure nature is diametrically opposed to the practical desire to control the world and cultivate it. "

This is a mock up design display for the work which will be presented outdoors. 
My Burn pieces will be blown up to 30" x 30" and printed for outdoors. 
I am leaving shortly for the Netherlands to attend the opening festivities.
So fun!
© Toni Hafkenscheid
Father and Son at Grand Canyon 2007

Nature, Toni Hafkenscheid tells us, almost always comes across as artificial. It is as if it has been transplanted directly from the model railway he has as a child. Hafkenscheid associates the North American landscape with the trees of cotton wool and cardboard mountains through which his trains used to run. In CONFABULATION he tries to give the real the appearance of artificiality. For that he uses  tilt-shift lenses, which, because he uses them the ‘wrong way around’, offer him the possibility of having only a small slice of the landscape in sharp focus, leaving the rest of the image fuzzy.

More information on the festival can be found HERE.

Special Places

I am about ready to head out to a special place that I have been visiting for the past 35 years. Every summer I make my pilgrimage to a remote location in Northern Wisconsin where I am able to dip into nature. Every year I bring my camera and am surprised by  new discoveries. It reinforces my thought that the longer you spend with your muse, the deeper the work becomes. 

I thought it would be fun to share some of the images I have made over time.


Beasts of the Southern Wild ~ The Movie

Beasts of the Southern Wild was a tour de force. Many people spend a lifetime trying to give expression the "all of it." I came out of the theater last night speechless and profoundly touched. New Orleans, Louisiana, life, death, and art all rolled into one. BRILLIANT! Clearly the muses were at work during it's creation. It is a most eloquent expression of what it means to be alive. See it...and see it NOW!

Candy Chang's Before I Die Project in New Orleans

Before I Die is the amazing brainchild of New Orleans artist Candy Chang. She is using blackboards that line the outside of an abandoned home in New Orleans to encourage people to think about their hopes and dreams. It is a symbol of rebirth and a testament to New Orlean's resilience and creativity.

In Chang's words...

"With support from old and new friends, I turned the side of an abandoned house in my neighborhood into a giant chalkboard to invite my neighbors to share what is important to them. Before I Die transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where we can learn the hopes and aspirations of the people around us. This process (including obtaining official approval from many entities) has been a great lesson--more on that later. If you're in New Orleans, stop by the corner of Marigny and Burgundy (900 Marigny Street) to add your thoughts to the wall and discover what matters most to your neighbors. I believe the design of our public spaces can better reflect what's important to us as residents and as human beings. The responses and stories from passersby while we were installing it have already hit me hard in the heart."

The project has had such a positive response that Chang decided to continue the project online where you can add your dreams. Here are a few that have just been added....

Before I die I want to let people realize the value of equality.
Before I die I want to find true happiness. And channel that to the world..
Before I die I want to Save someone I love's live or die trying.
-- GUS
Before I die I want to feel accomplished.
Before I die I want to have a world tour with my parents.
Before I die I want to forgive.
Before I die I want to finally live on my own..
Before I die I want to be a great mother.
Before I die I want to see and eat everything in the world!.
Before I die I want to truly be happy..

You can read more about it on her website HERE. What an inspirational project. I can't wait to visit the site on my next trip to New Orleans.

July 4th Chair Phenomena

July 2

Every July 4th there is a phenomena that occurs in Evanston as the residents approach their beloved 4th of July parade. EVERYONE wants front row seats. The chairs start lining up days in advance.

And for the past 14 years of the July 4th holidays, I have been in Mexico (or on route) with Chicago's Premier Chef, Rick Bayless, and his staff. This year is no exception. Three regional cuisines in 4 days; Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca! I hope to be posting from south of the border with my trusty iphone.

The Cove

I just finished watching the award winning documentary, The Cove. It was an AMAZING film. Such courage and passion. In it there was the following quote....

"Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. " Margaret Mead

So much yet to be done....

on my way...

I am off for a few weeks. I am not sure about my ability to post on the blog so thought I would leave a few of my newest Burn images created in 2010. What I found really amazing after culling thru so, so many images was that there can be a single, fleeting moment when the light, wind, smoke, and fire converge in a way that rings true to me....

One of my Burn pieces will be available at the Houston Center for Photography annual print auction. The exhibit opens January 21st and closes February 22nd.They have some interesting programming around the show.

Just a friendly reminder that the Corden Potts Gallery is handling sales from The Burn portfolio. Please contact them if you are interested.

The View from Lazy Point by Carl Safina

I just finished reading a NYT book review of The View From Lazy Point by Carl Safina....which is next in line on my reading list.

".... Safina asks us to reconsider the importance of that perennial question: “What is the meaning of life?” Which, he believes, is the wrong question to be asking because “it makes you look in the wrong places.” The right question is, “Where is the meaning in life.” And the place to look is “between.” In other words, we should look for the ways that all living creatures and all habitats are connected, look for what happens “between” them. “Relationships,” he insists, “are the music life makes. Context creates meaning.”

from The Burn Series ©2010 Jane Fulton Alt

"Safina returns again and again to this consideration of interconnectedness, and to the need for each person to cultivate a more considerate life: “To advance compassion and yet survive in a world of appetites — that is our challenge.” He calls for reverence and caution, and a humbling awareness that future generations must live with the consequences of the decisions we make today. “Ecology, family, community, religion — these words all grope toward the same need: connection, belonging, purpose.”

“Just as we went from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists to civilized societies,” he writes, “now we must take the next great leap: from merely civilized to humanized.”

Industrial Scars ~ J Henry Fair

I just came across the work of J Henry Fair and it is powerful. His book, the day after tomorrow, images of our earth in crisis, will be released soon by PowerHouse Books.

Fair states...."Industrial Scars is an aesthetic look at some of our most egregious injuries to the system that sustains us in hopes that the viewer will come away with an innate understanding of her complicity and a will to make a difference. My work is a response to my vision of society."

He continues, "I see our culture as being addicted to petroleum and the unsustainable consumption of other natural resources, which seems to portend a future of scarcity. My vision is of a different possibility, arrived at through careful husbandry of resources and adjustment of our desires and consumption patterns toward a future of health and plenty. To gear our civilization toward sustainability does not necessitate sacrifice today, as many naysayers would argue, but simply adjustment. There are many societies existing at present that have a standard of living at least as high as ours while consuming and polluting a fraction of what is the norm in the United States.

As an artist with a message, one asks oneself: how do I translate my message to my medium such that it will effect the change I want?

At first, I photographed “ugly” things; which is, in essence, throwing the issue in people’s faces. Over time, I began to photograph all these things with an eye to making them both beautiful and frightening simultaneously, a seemingly irreconcilable mission, but actually quite achievable given the subject matter. These are all photographs of things I have found in my explorations. Other than standard photographic adjustments of contrast, they are unmodified."

J Henry Fair
all images ©2010

His NYC show opens tonight at the Gerald Peters Gallery.

First Blizzard of the Season

We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year. I was really interested to learn from a Iranian friend that December 22nd is celebrated in his culture with great zest for being the longest night of the year. The holiday is known for its poetry, dried fruits, nuts and watermelon (to signify the promise of spring).

I am currently experiencing the first snowstorm of the year. The winds are howling and the snow is falling. I found myself starting to do a butterfly installation in my home to counter the storm. The butterflies, simply put, make me happy.

I then found my back yard bird friends braving the storm at the feeder just a few minutes ago.

We ARE going to get thru this winter!

Blessings of the Butterflies

"Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?" Frida Kahlo, 1953

I have just completed an installation in the entryway of Frontera Grill/ Topolobampo in Chicago. As many of you know, I have travelled for the past 12 years with award winning chef Rick Bayless and his wonderful staff to Mexico to become more familiar the culinary and cultural riches of each state. Every year I come back with photographs and mount a show from a particular region.

The idea for the current work was born on top of a pyramid at Teotihuacan just outside Mexico City. It was noon as I reached the peak of the Pyramid of the Sun. The quiet and gentle breezes were caressing my overheated body under the blazing sun. Much to my surprise and delight, I spotted many butterflies flittering about. The guide explained that the butterflies always appear at noon. The ancients believed the butterflies were reincarniated manifestations of the holy priests. It was a magical moment.

We also went to the village of Tepoztlan in which there was a audible collective sigh from everyone as we stepped off the bus into the gardens. It is a serene, low-key spiritual town nestled between craggy cliffs in the state of Morelos.

The transformative gardens of Tepotzlan

While in transit I was reading The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea (another Ragdale Fellow), a book filled with images of magical realism. We also visited Mexican painter Frida Kahlo's home (known as La Casa Azul, The Blue House), adding to my deeper understanding her life and work.

All of these experiences contributed to my wish to communicate a certain feeling I have about Mexico. Having conceived of this work was a bit like jumping off a cliff. I have not done anything like it before and yet it seemed, in my head at least, to convey the magic of the places we visited. An unanticipated surprise for me was to experience the flutter of the butterflies as the door swings open, ushering in the cool Chicago breeze. I have included some installation shots but encourage you, if possible, to experience the work in person. You are sure to also have a culinary experience extraordinaire!

Chicago Artist Month

October is Chicago Artist Month and there are many venue offerings. My Crude Awakening photographs will be exhibited in 3 locations. The first is for the Art Loop Open, October 15-29, Chicago’s new art competition— which will transform ten venues throughout Chicago’s Loop into interactive public art exhibits. My piece, Life Guards, will be exhibited at Block 37. On Friday, October 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. The public is encouraged to visit each venue and begin voting for their favorite artwork, while enjoying specialty "Artini" cocktails and other offerings.

Life Guards 40" x 40".

The next venue is at the Chicago Center for Green Technology. They partnered up with the Global Alliance of Artists and put a show together called "What We Worry About." I will have Life Guards, Marissa, and Keith,Laura and Olivia in this show. The opening reception is this Thursday from 5:30 - 7:30 at 445 N. Sacramento.


Keith, Laura and Olivia

And finally, I will be showing "Life Guards" in the 2nd Annual Artists for a Greener Evanston Showcase October 15 and 16th at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

Have a great month!

Rewriting the Artist Statement

The act if creating is ever evolving. I started The Burn series 3 years ago. The artist statement written a while back felt lacking because there was a subtext to the work that I was not sharing. Time has passed and there is more clarity on how and why I made the work. Having a solo show opening next week in San Francisco at the Corden Potts Gallery has encouraged me to reevaluate the artist statement. I have been reworking the statement for the past week and think I have finally arrived at what, exactly, I want to say.

Burn No. 49

Here it is....

"While accompanying restoration ecologists on prescribed prairie burns, I am drawn to the ephemeral quality of the single moment when life and death are not opposites, but rather parts of a single process to be embraced as a whole.

As fate would have it, this project began on the same day (and actual hour) of my sister’s first chemotherapy treatment, having just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The parallels between the burn and chemotherapy were immediately revealed to me as I photographed with my sister in my heart and mind.

Burning helps reduce invasive vegetation that crowd out native plants, allowing sunlight to reach the seedlings. By opening the woodlands to more daylight, the fires prepare the soil for new spring growth, and the cycle of renewal continues. So too, chemotherapy removes unwanted growth, allowing for new healthy cells to reestablish themselves. It was with this deeper understanding of the life cycle that these images were created."

Burn No. 45, included in the group juried show, "Fantastic Landscapes," gallery 310 conTEMPORARY @ 310 S. Michigan, Chicago, August 2nd - September 30, Reception, September 9th from 5-8pm.

Along the subject of cancer, I have another "body" of work on breast cancer that a fellow artist commissioned me to create. It can be seen HERE but is not for the faint hearted.

There is also a wonderful group of women who created Recovery On Water (ROW), a mutually-empowering rowing team that gives survivors of breast cancer the unique opportunity to interact, become active in their recovery, and gain support from fellow survivors. They are having a fund raiser in the Chicago area September 11th. Click HERE for more information.

Chris Jordan and E Pluribus Unum

You may remember a previous post on the incredible work Chris Jordan did in the Midway Atoll. Well, he has created another piece which is truly inspired. It is called E Pluribus Unum and it...
"Depicts the names of one million organizations around the world that are devoted to peace, environmental stewardship, social justice, and the preservation of diverse and indigenous culture. The actual number of such organizations is unknown, but estimates range between one and two million, and growing."

You need to visit his site to actually experience the work.

There is a really great interview with Chris on Yes! titled Bearing Witness: Chris Jordan on Art, Grief and Transformation.

an interesting excerpt...
"feeling is the kingdom of art. I've gotten to meet lots of scientists who are uniformly wringing their hands in frustration at their inability to convey to the public any sense of the extreme urgency they feel about the issues that they're studying. The underlying phenomena are profoundly important, and yet the information we're receiving is fundamentally dry and incomprehensible. Art can act as a mediator between science and the public, translating what science can tell us into a visual language that we can understand, that allows for personal connection and feeling."

BP in Whiting Indiana ~ Photographs by Lloyd Degrane

In 2007 there was a big uproar about BP dumping ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan. A Chicago Tribune article, BP Gets Break on Dumping in Lake, spelled out what was happening. A fellow photographer, Lloyd Degrane, has been photographing in Whiting, Indiana for some time now.

© Lloyd Degrane

Here is what he says....
"I've been working on a documentary project for a few years now and took these along the shore and nearby industrial sites of Lake Michigan. The Whiting,In. BP Refinery is only 15 miles from downtown Chicago. Up until the Gulf oil spill the Indiana refinery was surging ahead with their planned 100% expansion that would allow for the refinement of Canadian Tar Sands. The Tar Sands project starts in Alberta Canada. There, it's roughly refined and then would be shipped to Whiting for final refinement, right on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Tar sands oil is the dirtiest oil on the planet. It also requires a huge amount of energy to process. The one good thing about the Gulf oil disaster is that the Tar Sands project has been put on hold."

© Lloyd Degrane

BP and where I live

Just got an email this morning from Ben Prisk who lives in Ocean Springs, MS. The following is a post from his blog.

"I ran across the image below tonight at Boingboing. It was done by photographer Jane Fulton (look at the rest of her work please).

Currently, our barrier islands are doing a fair job of keeping the oil at bay. Growing up, I used to hate those islands, because they kept our water from being a brilliant green (as it was when you sailed to those islands). Now those islands are covered in the oil that all the other states are encountering.

I've held a bag of that has the weight and consistency of molten liver. I've talked to the men trying to skim it. When the oil splashes onto the boats, it takes an acidic cleaner and a lot of 'elbow grease' to remove it (hours).

I spoke to a friend of mine who owns a gorgeous wooden boat that BP tried to hire....he looked at the fine print in the contract and it said that 'all wooden boats would have to be destroyed after the event'. He declined, as his 52 ft boat was built in 1939 by a 19th century local boat builder wiped out by Katrina.

Thanks barrier islands.

If I were a wealthy man, I would license her images from her, have them printed in bus-stop size format and have them placed along the coast.... no logos ... no words ... only a tiny photo credit. Her work says it all."

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Keith, Laura and Olivia

Calling for the Pelicans

© 2010 Jane Fulton Alt ~ Itay

"As I was watching the world cup on TV, a commercial from BP came on with a phone number to make a claim for anyone that has been harmed by the effects of the recent oil spill. The commercial went on and on about how BP is trying to make things right by replacing the lost livelihoods of fishermen and others living on the Gulf Coast, but I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I called in and made a a pelican. I've come to realize how people are so concerned with the safety of the oil rig workers or how the fishing industry in the Gulf is in ruins, but what about the pelicans? What about the environmental repercussions that the oil spill has caused? I think that when man makes mistakes that cause himself problems, that is own business, but when our thirst for oil disturbs the processes of nature, we are responsible for the damage. The horrifying images of pelicans struggling to get out of the water, drenched in oil, are constant reminders of the severity of the environmental crisis in the Gulf Coast. I'm calling BP to make a claim for the pelicans, because they've been affected by the spill as much as anyone, although they don't want a check in the mail. All they want is to have the water where they feed and live to be free of fossil fuels so they can go about their business. They can't do it themselves, and it is up to us to make a difference throughout this environmental catastrophe. I'm calling for the pelicans."

Itay ~ age 16

US Could Learn Plenty from European Energy Policy