Wayne Norton

23.08.2011 in21:11 in Documentary -->


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This is a series of panoramic photographs of rural Iowa and its slowly vanishing culture. They are not an attempt to document Iowa, or to glamorize its beauty or culture by creating soul-soothing, pretty pictures. Instead, they are meant to look “real”, yet be expressive of my personal artistic vision. This series is intended as an intimate portrait of the often neglected and overlooked small towns and rural landscape of Iowa. Included in this concept is Man’s uncertain relationship with the land and the rural culture, the paradoxical beauty of decay in Man’s creations, and issues regarding the tendency for its people to leave the towns and farms to seek opportunity elsewhere.

While this photography is driven by my artistic need to create compelling images, I am equally motivated by my love for Iowa and a desire to represent rural culture. As urban sprawl gobbles up more and more of this county, many regions of the Unites States seem claustrophobic to me. However, Iowa still feels spacious, and I wanted to convey that in my photographs. To help accomplish this I chose to use a specialized panoramic camera that captures a wide view and depicts a sense of space more than standard camera formats. The wide format also allows me to enhance this effect by sometimes composing images utilizing mulitpoint perspective. This feeling of space is further conveyed by the large final print size of 21″ x 60″. I feel this large size helps draw the viewer into the scene, creates a greater sense of volume, and shows important fine details and elements within the image.

My compositions are very carefully composed and reflect a Modernist, Precisionist aesthetic that values technical skills and the fine print, but with conceptual narrative content. They are a personal statement regarding rural Iowa and display my down-to-earth values and attraction to rustic subject matter. I often make them using directional lighting that reveals the textural quality of the subjects. These photographs are my attempt to create a balance between form and narrative, to express my values as a visual artist as well as my values as a person. This series, while being an artistic portrait of Iowa, is also a portrait of myself.