Pete Myers Pete Myers

Artist Statement

The ruins of the American West are fading back into the earth, scrapped for their parts, ruined by vandals. It’s a constant challenge to go to the remote locations where these few remaining ruins dwell—it’s almost as if they’re trapped in a time machine. It’s an even bigger challenge to capture their magic and bring it back for all to see.

To do this, it’s not enough to see through the lens; one must feel through it. What’s in front of the camera must be celebrated, and to do so, the photographer has to give freely from the soul.

Abstraction is a certainty among the ruins of the American West. Many of the structures and artifacts that are so pertinent to the story of these lands come from native materials of the area—the only materials available for the pioneers who settled here. So, in aging, they melt, rust, and meld back into the earth with a romance that expresses the love of their builders.

The organic decay of these structures is complex, and the primary challenge as a photographer is to capture the flow, grace, and beauty seen on location. Folding down a three-dimensional representation into a two-dimensional metaphor of its beauty requires fully realized skill—both on location and in postproduction. It’s not about taking a photo, but rather about making a photo, and it can require a week or more of postproduction work to draw out the essence of a particular scene.

When I photograph, I don’t see the primary object. Instead, I feel the juxtaposition and weight of all the elements within the photograph, all at once. I’m not photographing an object; I’m composing the feeling of what it’s like to be there on location, comingled with the passion that fills me from within.

As with a painter, my work as a fine art photographer is to bring out the visual relationships within the original scene in order to evoke an emotional connection with the viewer. The challenge today is the same that Aaron Siskind faced with his own work: to get the viewer to look past the object and feel the visual metaphor of the work. Today, as in Siskind’s time, it’s a challenge to present abstract works and receive recognition for the beauty within. Most viewers of abstract works tend to revert to seeing, when they should be feeling, and they haven’t been taught how to feel the content in abstract artistic works.

And yet the work goes on. The hope is to understand the beauty left over from a time when we built from the earth, were physically connected to it, and had a symbiotic relationship with the landscape that is sorely missing today. It’s an illustration of both what we lost, and what we can do to restore our symbiotic balance with earth and nature in the future.