Artist Statement: Where the Summer Burned, Bachelor of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition, Tulane University, 2019
It is crazy to think that a certain place can have such a meaningful impact on a person. Camp Hess Kramer was, and still is, the place that I grew in to the person that I am today. Every year, for 12 summers, I left the place knowing that I would return, whether that be as a camper, CIT, staff member, or alum. It is the magic that kept me going back year after year. Although the physicality of most of the buildings themselves have been destroyed, the magic lives on through our memories, experiences and relationships that we have with one another. And for that, I am grateful.
November 10, 2018
I remember the feeling—butterflies in my stomach as the big yellow school bus drove through the curves of Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway—a drive I would take summer after summer, for twelve years to my second home. This second home, Camp Hess Kramer, was a place of summer activity—playing sports, swimming in the pool, making lanyards, and spending time with life-long friends. When the Woolsey Fire raged down and through the hills of Malibu, the camp was destroyed in minutes as the fire sped through the dry and arid creek. What used to be trees and structures were left to their spines, backbones, and organic forms. Pacific Coast Highway, once surrounded by lush vegetation and greenery, was transformed into a moon-like surface, unrecognizable from it’s prior landscape.
These photographs are a remembrance of my relationship to this camp, and serve as a way to process the destruction of my second home. My goal for this project is to convey my personal eye on the destruction and find beauty within it. In doing so, I portray a collision between images of the space and the physicality of the location itself. By crumbling some of the images and re-photographing and re-printing them, I create a three-dimensional viewing for the objects themselves. The tactile immediacy of the images is explored through the texture and harsh light and shadows as they are enlarged in size. The various crumbling techniques create detail and shape for the viewer to recognize and interpret.
The un-edited, more formal photographs accentuate the line and texture that has remained after the fire. As desolate mountainsides have transformed from moon-like to flourishing, lush landscape, I capture the growth and beauty that has risen through the terrible destruction. There is a stark contrast between what was and what is—but the only way for me to cope with this destruction is through appreciation and remembrance.