Images by Luther Gerlach, created and exhibited in 2018 at the Carnegie Art Museum.
Life on Earth is interdependent: one small change to a system can and will effect every element of that system. In the relatively closed system of my darkroom, I use this reactivity to elicit beauty from elements usually associated with destruction or detritus in the larger world. As fires continue to rage with unprecedented frequency and ferocity across the planet, these images treated with sulfur and ash collected from the 2017 Thomas Fire in California take on a talismanic power. The landscapes are abstracted, revealing a dark beauty in the the scenes of destruction and regrwoth alike.
In counterpoint, the seaweeds represent the largely unharnessed power of our aquatic ecosystems to mitigate the havoc wreaked by greenhouse gases, rising temperatures, and increasing salinity on our environment. Backlit and luminous underwater shots of various algae, stained with their own tannins and selectively painted with asphalt collected alongside them on the beach - these images symbolize an innate regenerative compliment to the destruction of the fires.