Ed Dunn -Photography
My art is rooted in my environmental view of the world
The other day I took a shot of the San Francisco Peaks on a cold crisp morning after a storm. It was one of those that gave the mountain a look of a big marshmallow. The trees, usually dark streaks heading to the promontory, were encrusted in white fluff. Wisps of cloud were wrapping it all up like a present on Christmas morning. Down in town, Biffs, Macy’s, and all of the coffee houses were full of people clothed in ski pants and jackets, you know the kind that make the swishy sound when they walk, getting nourishment to go out and play in the fresh, new blanket of crisp, icy wonderfulness. Their cars were packed with snowboards, skis, snow shoes, and, of course, do not forget the dogs, they would never forgive you.
The San Francisco Peaks define who we are, here in Flagstaff. Their appearance changes each day by the hour and minute. Fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Moon light on snow. They provide us with views, from down here and from up there -- the vistas in all directions and down into the inner basin. The fall is so colorful with the yellow, the winter coat of snow, the spring green of the Aspens, the quilted pattern of ponderosa, aspen and talus, along with the light show put on by clouds passing over in the summer. At all times of the year, the clouds are shaped by this enormous superstructure rising out of the Colorado Plateau, cumulus, altostratus, and especially, our favorite, the lenticular. They are a visual delight.
I grew up in AZ and lived and played in the desert and forests of the rim and the mountains. From an early age I came to love being outdoors and have done many a backpack trip to get out away from the city, as far away from buildings and roads as I could get. To heal, reinvigorate, to re-create myself. But, I never rejected the city. I was trained as an architect, a builder and an urban planner. I do love cities, the built environment and their peoples. I would love to take more pictures of people, especially genre scenes. I see potential images everywhere.
When I graduated, I was a rabid environmentalist. My first job teaching was on the rez. Could I really teach those kids environmentalism when they were living it better than I was? My next gig was the inner city. The 12 year old in the front row was pregnant. They were all on the free lunch program, to guarantee they had at least two meals each day. What about the environment could I teach kids when they did not know if they would even eat that day? Those kids taught me so much.
There is always a threat to our mountain by people who just don’t get it like we do. We moved here to enjoy our “poverty with a view,” to see this place, play in it, revel in it. Last year a state legislator proclaimed that we need to take all of this back from the feds so that we can develop it. He said it would make the cost of living lower in our town. To some, money is life. To the rest of us, living in this beautiful, soulful world is life.
Though I am a musician -- and like to draw, paint, and hand build works of clay or wood, photography appeals to me because I love the science and technology. The physics of the camera obscura and depth of field amazes me. The idea that light can be captured on a sensor, then manipulated, and translated to a print with micro droplets of ink on a fine piece of cotton paper, wow!
My work is to communicate the value of this mountain, this town, this region, or any of the other incredible places I have traveled to. Everywhere I look, I see the light illuminating the natural and built world. Line, shape, form, all of the elements come together to form relationships in a fine art image and I strive to bring it all together to be meaningful. Photography is the medium I have found that works for me to inform you of this idea of beauty, of the soul of nature, the city and its people. As a musician, I want to illustrate rhythm, pattern and balance. As a photographer, I continue to learn to find ways to sharpen or soften an image to show the texture and color of a place.