There is so much beauty, so much awe and bewilderment to be found in the visible creation that we walk through life blind to all but the most miniscule portion of it. Through the lens of the camera I seek to capture the beauty and wonder we often miss in everyday places, and to share with others the visible scenes that resonate with my soul. The Urban Oasis collection is a collection of photographs shot at a single location in the heart of an urban/suburban environment. It attempts to wakeup the viewer to the reality that one need not travel to far away, exotic locales in order to find peace and beauty in nature, but that by opening one's eyes to just a little more possibility, one can discover this beauty right here in our own backyards. "Thy Dwelling Place" is one series of images from the Urban Oasis collection that have been grouped together because of the way they evoke "heavenly" images and scenes. But the title of the series is a delicious irony because just like our dwelling place is right here on Planet Earth and not in the skies, so, likewise, this set of images are taken of scenes grounded squarely on this planet, not taken through a telescope pointed at the sky.
In the last couple of years, I have expanded my artistic pursuit into new territory through acrylic painting. This in no way replaces my photography, which remains the heart and soul of my body of work, but rather adds to it and compliments it. For while the camera can be used to capture images that resonate with the soul, the camera cannot record the invisible, cannot capture images of the soul itself. I have found great freedom, therefore, in laying down the camera at times, picking up a paint brush, and setting down on canvas images coaxed to the surface from deep within. Scenes of laughter or of despair, of joy or of angst, - I make no demands on what ought be expressed but rather yield myself to whatever wells up at the moment, sometimes painting while silently dancing, other times letting the tears mingle with the paint.
I find, therefore, a great peace and unity in pursuing these two divergent media as complimentary means to giving birth to my artistic expression. Many have urged me to take this a step further by blending the two media together - adding acrylics to photographic prints, or alternately, using the camera to manipulate finished acrylic paintings into new "child" works of art, etc. I have warmly received all these suggestions and taken them to heart, and the day may come that I will seriously pursue experiments in this direction. But for the time being, my heart is content to keep the media separate. I feel my photographs speak for themselves and that adding paint to the prints would subtract from, rather than add to, the striking images. Conversely, I feel the paintings are a snap shot of what my soul was expressing at a moment in time, and to alter the paintings through photographic manipulation would be to tell a false story of what my soul had spoken. Thus my art, in the way I approach these two media, becomes itself a metaphor for how I desire to approach all of life - to my relationship with my wife, my family and all mankind: unity through diversity, not unity through loss of individual identity.
-Mark Abinante, sdgart.com