Brad Wilson Statement


Artist Statement
I have always been interested in that precision which creates beauty - the exact instant when mood, stillness, and composition align to make something common suddenly uncommon, something expected suddenly unexpected. In many ways, my entire life in photography has been about trying to find those few elusive moments and capture them. The path to those moments, however, has seldom been straightforward. For me, the primary obstacle is always familiarity. It gives rise to a special kind of blindness - one that prevents me from seeing anything artistically compelling in the repetitive scenes of my everyday life, or along the roads I’ve already traveled. I need journeys into the unknown to restore my vision. This project with animals, and all that it encompassed, was one of those journeys.

For as long as humans have been on this planet, we have had a remarkably complex and constantly changing relationship with the wildlife around us. At times, animals have been our allies, our enemies, our gods, and our food. Often these roles have existed simultaneously across many different cultures and continents. Our destinies have been, and will continue to be, inexorably linked. Perhaps this long shared history is one significant element of the powerful affinity we feel for them. It is impossible to stand a few feet away from an elephant, a tiger, or a chimpanzee, with no barriers between you, and remain unmoved. There is something deeply resonant about this type of encounter that is profound in the moment and primal in its roots. This was the rare and fragile territory I entered as the project began.

From the start, there was something immensely challenging and inspiring about working with these creatures. Up to that point, I had spent my career photographing subjects I largely controlled: professional models, actors, or other noteworthy people. In general, I told them exactly what to do and they did it. Now suddenly I was facing subjects, who, for the most part, did what they wanted with no regard for me or my artistic agenda. Specific verbal directions were replaced by patient waiting and observation - a kind of meditation in the middle of organized chaos. That in itself was exhilarating, but there was something more. What I discovered was a world that we, as humans, have largely abandoned - a place of instinct, intuition, and present moment awareness - a fully natural world, distinct from the increasingly urbanized and digitized landscape that surrounds us. In the midst of our modern human civilization with all its technological complexities, animals still remain stark symbols of a simpler life and a wilderness lost. Perhaps these images can stand as a testament to this other fading world, and remind us, despite the pronounced feeling of isolation that too often characterizes our contemporary existence, that we are not alone, we are not separate - we are part of a beautifully rich and interconnected diversity of life.


 
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