Friday, September 30, 2011

Finding redemption on Iliff Ave.

     Photographer Robert Adams, in a recent interview on the public radio show "Colorado Matters" said that his job was to record what was, so that what could be seen to be wrong might be rectified, and what was right might be preserved.  Adams chronicled, through photos, the changes in Colorado in the late '60's and early '70's, and, when asked whether the photos would be relevant today, he replied that some things have probably gotten worse, but that there are always going to be those things that are right and good.  And he said that he always seeks to "find redemption in nowhere in particular".  Ryan Warner, the interviewer, found that statement quite thought-provoking, and so do I.
     Adams reported that he would often walk down a street or sidewalk, simply observing his surroundings.  If something struck him as photo-worthy, he'd snap it (the photo above was the product of that kind of meandering in Colorado Springs).  He wasn't looking for anything in particular, perhaps only contrasts or lighting anomalies.  He may only have taken a couple of dozen photos a day.*  Yet amazing photos resulted.
      What is counted as "redemption" will differ from person to person (and I'm not just speaking in "religious" terms, although the statement is probably true in that regard as well).  The idea that one might find it "nowhere in particular" made me wonder, however, how much I might miss that is "redemptive" simply because I didn't imagine it could be there.  With a different set of eyes, what might I see?
      I was, of course, listening to this interview while bike-commuting, and I looked down at the very cracked (and repaired) road surface.  What was redemptive there?  And the cracks spoke to me of the power of that natural world to undo a lot of what we make.  As we know, without the constant work of road crews, our streets would quickly become pitted, pot-holed, and barely passable.  Nature strikes back -- redeeming work.  Hopeful, in some respects!  I'd never thought I'd find redemption in the bumpy surface of Iliff Avenue.
     Maybe it's not just "finding redemption in nowhere in particular" but, with eyes-and intention-to see, finding it, potentially, everywhere.  That would be looking through the eyes of blessing rather than cursing. Of salvation rather than damnation.  Of hope rather than despair.  Imagine what might change if we could train ourselves to do that.


*  This is in stark contrast to National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones, who would snap hundreds of photos, trying to be at the right place at the right time-like dawn or dusk-trusting that one out of those myriad snaps would be great.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this posting after returning home from viewing the Robert Adams retrospective at the Denver Art Museum where this photograph, as well as so many other thought-provoking ones are on view. The photographs are both visually and intellectually stimulating - a great exhibit.