TEXAS RANGELAND began on a trip to Marathon, Texas, near Big Bend in 1995. I was on a lonely stretch of highway between Marathon and Marfa and a big Brahma Bull was standing near the road behind a barb wire fence. He was just standing there as if waiting for me. I drove past him for about a mile and then surprised myself by turning around.
I say that I surprised myself because to this point in my life as an artist I had only looked at the most abstract, subtle, metaphoric, and “spiritual” subject matter to photograph. Bulls were definitely not included. Nevertheless, I went back and began a journey that shaped my future life.
That Bull allowed me to get within 6 inches of him. He actually posed for me. Turned wherever I wanted and allowed me to capture his monumental essence. When he was done, he simply snorted, pawed the earth and walked away. People have been surprised by how close I was to him and other Bulls, Cows and Calves in this series. They have said how unpredictable Bulls can be. I never seemed to have any problem. Maybe I am just too naïve.
In the past my focus was on the emotional quality of light and form in its most abstract sense. Now that has been tempered by the “humanity” that is the cattle. They are amazing and offer me a higher level ofvulnerability that has escaped me before. I have always looked at the camera as a key to a door, not as a tool to record reality and, as such, have always looked to painting, printmaking and other art forms for inspiration. I see the camera as the brush, and film and paper as the canvas. This, then, releases me from any restraints and allows me to capture my imagination. To paint with light, so to speak, and to truly feel no obligation to tell the “truth”, or to record something the way I think it “really is”. But, instead, I allow myself to dream, and then, to paint that dream with light. It allows me to get closer to my heart that way.
The Bull and Cow presented something different to me. I see incredible form in their bodies. Forms can go beyond what they seem into something that strikes a deep chord within me. It is as if the form itself is a portal into an unknown place within that I feel compelled to look at. It is not only form but texture, light, and a moment in time that I look at. I have allowed myself to be captured by these things. And, when I surrender, much is revealed to me. I’m in awe of their sweetness, frailty, bravado, strength, and monumentality. I hope others will have the same experience when they look at this series and my book, Texas Rangeland, that the University of Texas Press published in 2002.