Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.
From the series Thoughts on Form

The light in my life

Jan 17, 2019 - Paula McCartney

I wanted the light to be the revelation.  It has to do with what we value.  I want people to treasure light.”  —James Turrell


In the past year few years, I’ve been working on being present, being in the moment.  I’m not a patient person, I don’t like to sit still. So I appreciate things that make me slow down.  One thing that has allowed me to slow down in the past few years is watching the light that moves through my studio.  On sunny days light floods into the room and intersects with the architecture projecting geometric forms along my walls.


One summer I mapped out the light with tape as it moved across the wall. Months later, sitting at my desk I watched the winter light intersect with these tape lines as it progressed over the wall.  There were moments when the new light briefly kissed a tape line, making a momentary connection. At other times it embraced the existing lines.  The moments were brief, lasting 30 seconds at most.  Long enough to make just several photographs.  Some days, I found myself noticing an interaction that was about to occur and would pause and wait for it to happen. Patience was rewarded with moments of connection and balance, uncommon within the daily routine of life.A connection that was meaningless but also sublime.  The tape is still on my wall two years later.  It is the first thing I see as I walk up the stairs to my studio. It’s a reminder to experiment, to try new things, to play.


These moments are recorded in Book 2 of my new book project, What Doesn’t Kill You Will Likely Try AgainIn Book 4 of the project, I took control (it always goes back to taking control) and directed small lights onto small clay forms.  The light functions to both illuminate the subject and to expand the form with the multiple shadows it casts.  One form becomes three, the shadows commanding as much presence as the object itself.


From Book 4 of What Doesn’t Kill You Will Likely Try Again


I’ve also been experimenting making larger ceramic forms to photograph. These forms are illuminated with sunlight and stand in dialog with the shadows they cast-two players on a small stage.  They are designed to have the same hard geometric edges as the areas of light projected by my windows and are inspired by the minimal, sublime sculptures of Brancusi as well as his personal photographs of the sculptures.


From the series Thoughts on Form


Photography is obviously dependent on light. But for many years I only made photographs outside on overcast days.  When I was out photographing and the sun broke through the clouds, I cursed the sky. Now I am using light (both sunlight and direct artificial light) as the subject or to activate the subject