I find inspiration in many places: classical Chinese and Japanese painting and poetry, Western impressionism, the poetry of masters like Charles Wright, the moral insight of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, the religious inspiration of the New Testament.
There are also many photographers who inspire me. These include obvious choices like Ansel Adams and Vivian Maier. But they also include current contemporaries: Pat Reich, Gail Stephen, Hengki Koentjoro, Sean Goswell, Chris Friel, Arina Jansen van Vuuren, Tae Sunny Yoo, and many others.
The practice of photography in the end is yet another artistic practice and requires imagination and an eye for detail and composition and the discipline to deal with technical matters. Still, I like most this quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson: ““It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head.”
“We are moved by what is beautiful, whether that beauty is discovered or created. We are also moved by what is authentic—true to its character and to our own. My art wanders between these poles, seeking to sustain the authenticity of the scene while drawing forth an emotional response through its interpretation. My images, including the images in this collection, pursue this dual goal for photography. Each image begins as a capture of one moment in a n Oregon nature setting. That capture is then processed—sometimes quite minimally but sometimes quite extravagantly—to invite an emotional interpretation of the original scene. In this way I seek to combine the authenticity of the capture with authentic aesthetic engagement.”
Originally from the South Jersey shore, Russell enjoyed a long career as a professor of linguistics at the UO before retiring in 2011 to pursue his commitment to photography. He enjoys coaxing beauty from the ordinary in the Fern Ridge wetlands west of Eugene and the ponds and wetlands along the central Oregon coast. His stylistic interests include impressionism and painterly work, minimalist images, and abstract work derived from water, cloud, and fog.
Russell volunteers as a photographer for the Wetlands Conservancy and offered his first photography workshop earlier this Spring in support of the Conservancy’s 40th anniversary. He also has had a set of images published in the Spring 2020 issue of the Parisian literary magazine Daïmon: Revue de Singularités Littéraires.
Autumn brings fog to the wetlands, and yellow into the trees and foliage, and the two conspire to bring beauty before us from such everyday settings. I hope very much to be there. You might try it, too; even the weeds by the roadside can be beautiful.
Philippians 4: 8
Oregon Wetlands | Beauty in the Ordinary
October 9—December 30, 2021
The images in this collection explore the beauty found in the ordinary setting of Oregon wetlands. It is easy to see beauty in majestic forest landscapes across both western and eastern Oregon or the immediate grandness of falls like Multnomah or Proxy or Silver. But Oregon wetlands might seem dull—fields of cattails and teasel and sedge and weeds and puddled water drying as summer ends. But there is beauty in this quiet and ordinary setting, and that is the beauty in the ordinary I aim to capture and reveal.
Artist Reception: Saturday, October 9th, 1-3 PM