You might have noticed that I love leaves. Especially the leaves of autumn, that have fallen from the trees and started to dry, color and curl. While most people see leaves as a seaonal nuisance to be raked up, I find them so unexpectly deep and full of character that they have long been my favorite subject to photograph. So you ask, where did this love (obsession?) come from?
I’m a native of the northeast, growing up in Buffalo, and living in Massachusetts and now New Jersey. My artwork is closely tied to our strong, distinct seasons; and is especially connected to autumn. I simply love the fall! I have always felt most alive and aware during the months of autumn. But I discovered the strength of this connection only after moving away from the northeast — and away from autumn — to live in California for a time.
While I enjoyed the warmth of California, its lack of “real” seasons unexpectedly weighed heavily on me. Something was missing; it felt like time itself was slightly out of skew. I began to use my art to try to reconnect with those missing seasons. I’d collect the very few leaves that would fall, and would spend days exploring them with my camera, trying to learn why they had such a hold over me. When I finally moved back to the northeast, to autumn and home, my art exploded!
I never pick a leaf off a tree — I only work with leaves that have already fallen. I tend to create art very slowly, so my leaves continue to dry as I work. I love to watch the changes that happen as the leaf dries, revealing a unique “personality” shaped by its life: the rain, the sun, and the winds it experienced.
Leaves might seem simple subject for art, dull and with absolutely no surprises. But I have actually found that they are full of complexity and subtle character. While they look so much alike, each has its own personality, individual and unique. And after more than fifteen years, I continue to be surprised.