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Category: Nature

Patricia Galagan: Juniper Futures, A Death Foretold

Artist’s Statement:

One-seed juniper trees, Juniperus monosperma, are so common in the American Southwest that we barely notice them except in their abundance. Normally, they’re a hardy species, living hundreds of years, extending their long taproots deep into rocks and soil to find moisture. Portions of a juniper may die from drought or stress or fire, but the tree lives on, embodying both life and death in the same plant.

Now, some research ecologists think that prolonged drought and rising temperatures might be a fatal combination for the junipers of the Southwest.

Susan Sontag wrote “All photographs are momento mori.” These images of juniper trees, made in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, and rendered in the style of ancestor portraits, were inspired by the possibility of their immanent mortality as a species.


Artist’s Bio:

Making photographs is a necessary pleasure I’ve pursued for many decades, originally as an adjunct to a long career as a writer and editor, and now as a dedicated fine-art photographer.

I shot my first roll of film at age 10, in Yosemite, with a Kodak Brownie camera, a birthday gift from my parents. Many decades and technologies later, I am still pursuing the compelling mystery of a good photograph. To quote Robert Frost, “We sit in a circle and suppose. The secret sits in the middle and knows.”

I’m drawn to photographing the aftermath of upheaval, especially social, geographic, and ecological. I seek out places where nature and man have collided and where things are not quite as we expect or want them to be.

My work has appeared in solo shows at the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR, as a result of winning a solo show award in the Critical Mass Competition in 2014; at the PhotoEye Bookstore in Santa Fe, NM; and in group shows at the New Mexico Museum of Art, and at Bandelier National Monument where I was an artist in residence in 2015. My Cuba portraits will be featured in a summer edition of Black & White magazine.