132: John Lusk Hathaway

John Lusk Hathaway
Little Stony Creek, Watauga Lake, TN, 2011, from the series "wild|life"

Series Statement
This photographic body of work loosely explores the topography of a southeastern broad leaf forest, but as integral as the forest is, the natural setting becomes a backdrop and secondary to the human element, and how we the people, live out lives in and around the public and private landscape of the Cherokee National Forest. This component inevitably comments on recreation, class and the role of this natural setting within rural Appalachia, an area that has been misunderstood for generations.

The underlying questions and concerns generated by the work are paramount in the process of learning about ourselves, and the interaction we have with a landscape that has been set-aside as a recreational outlet and a commodity for the infrastructure of our consumer based nation. Why do we as humans tend to migrate to natural environments? Why have we blocked off lands for our enjoyment and commodification? Why do we as humans look to the natural world for answers to questions that are as old as the forest itself? Is there something intrinsic in the forest that elicits our undivided attention? Is it beauty? Is there an element of the sublime? These are all questions the photographs contained within wild|life seek to distill into a form that is approachable.

It is my main goal that this body of work is a springboard for further thought and contemplation on who we are as a people and how we recruit nature to be our comforting shoulder and adumbration of meaning pointing toward something greater than the singular self and the experiences contained within this maddening jumble of post-modern life. By wielding my camera in a deliberate yet subtle manner, paying utmost attention to framing, light, space, and metaphor, I create a complex environment were the landscape and cast of characters coalesce and vie for attention within the public and private landscape of the Cherokee National Forest. The forest becomes a stage where human life is acting out a poetic form of wild living. Even if this exchange is mediated and flawed, these photographs continually show an interaction between humans and wilderness that is real and felt. It is imperative that we truly understand the importance of this relation, and mend our tattered and egocentric affiliation with the wild.