New Photographs: Joshua Tree National Park
Darcy Curwen was a participant in the Riverside Art Museum/Joshua Tree National Park Affiliate Artist Program from 2008-2009. Since the beginning of his career Curwen’s work has dealt with personal connections to the land and how human beings negotiate their relationship to the natural world. He is currently photographing Southern California deserts using traditional black and white materials and a large format camera.
"This body of photographs invokes the traditions of modern California photography, however these images move beyond this simple starting point. While tapping into the formal qualities of the park’s trees, I sought to humanize them, finding an empathetic or intimate connection to the twist and sway of branches across vast empty skies and stark landscapes. These trees attracted me as they stand in their isolation within this incredibly harsh climate. I was curious about the unique characteristics of these trees and of their evolutionary adaptations: the ocotillo that drops its leaves as soon as the ground dries, only to sprout them again at the smallest measure of moisture, the smoke tree, that lives in dry washes and propagates only in times of flash floods, and the joshua tree, the park’s namesake, that only exists in this small corner of the planet.
Additionally, I was drawn to the spectacular monzonite granite boulders that set Joshua Tree National Park apart from other California desert regions. In my work these rock abstractions are intended to function in a similar fashion to how the rocks function within the park. They provide a backdrop to the living wilderness and ground us within a geologic timeline that dates back over 100 million years. Formally these images provide a visual break, a pause, and space for reflection."