My entire photographic experience has been centered around form, light and a spiritual search. Years before I apprenticed with Minor White in the late 1960's, I had adapted the 'series' as a means of individualizing and adding depth to my exploration of my subjects. In this searching for the essence of each story, I have reconciled each image to reflect my basic theme. In my current work, 'Another Face of Islam', I have tried to reflect my artistic impression of the culture, landscape, and people of the Muslim world. I have abandoned all pretense of photo-documentation and used my eye to capture the depth and serenity of the Islamic faith. This work sprung out of a failed project I was pursuing that concentrated on the religions and cults of America. Not only was this an over-tread path, it refused to inspire my vision. Given the current emotional charge and political landscape in America regarding terrorism and Islam, I found myself drawn to finding, if not the truth, at least my truth of this misunderstood religion. I have not sought to resolve any questions posed by our post 9/11 world, but rather to investigate the form, spirit and light of the Islamic faith and its influence on our world.
One aspect of the Muslim society I experienced as universal was a closed-door for a male photographer of women. Many aspects of their world are beyond the Western experience, but this single aspect of isolation and loneliness was all pervasive. I have tried to convey this seperation and loneliness in my images. The other all-present characteristic is the devout rigor and spiritual aura of each person and community I visited. This translated not only in the loud speakers blaring their calls to prayer five times daily, but in conversations that alwasys presumed Islam is the only path, and if you are not on that path, you are completely misguided. This self-conscious awareness of being on the wrong side of God's gate was punctuated by countless details of everyday life. Examples of this awareness span from eating only with your right hand, to proscribed methods of toilet ritual.These small but persistent reminders of the rightness of their faith constantly pointed on one direction... Christianity, Judaism and all other belief systems are operating outside of the true intentiions of the truth, and therefore, God. When you are not of their faith, 'outsider' takes on a whole new dimension. I hope this isolation is conveyed in these images.
I have never thought of photography as a literal art form. As a painter and graphic artist I have never distinguished a photograph from a painting in terms of interpretive value. Once the image enters the eye of the artist and travels throught the lens and ends on the paper, it is a transformation of almost magical dimensions. I will never forget the first time I saw a silver print emerge in the printing solution. I will never forget the first time I showed the image to another's eyes. This process of at least eight steps, creates an illusion as abstract and powerful as any art form. Add to that, the transformation that takes place in the artist through the action, and that organic process never ends.