Lara Shipley & Antone Dolezal Statement

Artist Statement
Deep in the backwoods of the Ozark hills locals both young and old still talk about the Spook Light. This mysterious light phenomenon appears on chance nights as a floating orb, seen on a remote country road in an area known as Devil’s Promenade. Many have tried and failed to discover its origins, including the United States Army Corp of Engineers in the 1950’s. Because of its lack of explanation the Devil’s Promenade has been a popular local destination for decades, with the tale of the Spook Light taking on the quality of myth within the local community.

Our collaborative project combines photographs of Ozark people and the land with more abstract and interpretive images based on oral accounts and mythology surrounding the light. Our aim is not to provide documentation, but to suggest a narrative that, in the spirit of the light, is part fixed in this unique region and part afloat in a mysterious, otherworldly realm.

Folkloric stories can shed symbolic light on very real issues in a community. This region is marked by isolated poverty and a sense of a struggle between heaven and hell that factors into everyday conversation. We feel the frequent and mysterious appearance of the Spook Light has come to represent for the people we meet a desire for redemption and the fear of slipping into darkness. It is the sublime experience whose defiance of explanation provides a reprieve from ordinary life.

Process Statement
Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal are from the Ozark region of the Midwest. They are collaborators on Devil’s Promenade, which uses Ozark folklore as a basis for a project that combines photographs with fictional stories, oral histories, found artifacts and video. Spook Light Chronicles is an accompanying three volume book series being released in 2014 by Search Party Press. Devil's Promenade has been featured on National Public Radio, Oxford American, VICE, Huffington Post and books and prints from this series reside in the collections of the British Library (London), New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago).

Lara Shipley received an MFA in photography from Arizona State University. She currently teaches photography at the University of Kansas.

Antone Dolezal has a BFA from the College of Santa Fe and is currently an artist and writer residing in Santa Fe, NM.

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