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Faculty with work on exhibition (full statement)



Steve Bardolph

Imagine Living Here: Butler Arch Panorama, 2014
Archival Inkjet Photo on Tyvek, 5' high x 10' wide (60"h x 120"w)


Artist's Statement

My goal is to share, through immersive photographic panoramas, the awe I experience at the flaming shining grandeur in the world around me. I want to help people see, even in everyday events and places, life charged with deep freshness and bright wonder. These panoramas are my primary artistic and design direction, and I’ve been exploring the human interaction with beautiful and sublime landscapes for 20 years. These works are like a Japanese garden, at once presenting an awe-inspiring and complete whole, as well as a lush tapestry of individual details spread across singular moments in time.They ground the viewer in real space while employing graphic design’s familiar and comfortable grid, yet they break the window of conventional perspective by reaching around and behind to shift points of view and invite an exuberant interaction with place and time. What can at first appear playfully simple is rich with contrast, questions, and discoveries. What seems complete can be fragmentary, and what looks shattered may be a unified entity. Behind the clean order and repetition lurk deeper discussions of boundaries, borders, authority, power, ethics, culture, sustainability and spirituality. Typography is used at times to focus and direct interpretation, and in other works stripped away to invite further consideration.


In Mesa Verde Stories, I contribute as visual communicator, designer and photographer in a collaborative interdisciplinary team of researchers including an archaeologist, a poet, a Tewa consultant, a philosopher and a filmmaker. Together we are using our diverse scholarly lenses and experience to examine challenging topics in the southwestern United States in order to create broader awareness, lively discussion, and deeper understanding of indigenous populations and sustainability in the academic research community and the public at large. We study the rise, spread, and collapse of an ancient and complex American Pueblo society in southwestern Colorado, southern Utah, northern New Mexico and Arizona in an effort to understand how and why human cultures change over time. We share our findings in exhibitions, conference presentations, short films, and the written word.


One of our first site visits together was to Butler Wash in southern Utah, a vast sun-baked sweep of sandstone that drops into a verdant green ravine under an endless sky. Steve Wolverton, as archaeologist, was able to scientifically describe the dwellings tucked under the overhang on the far side of the gorge, but Porter Swentzell, a Pueblo descendent of the people that inhabited the region 700 years ago, helped us imagine what it might have been like to live there. He traced the counterclockwise path they used to approach their home, the hand and footholds carved into the rock, the kiva like stone bowl and arch through which water still flows down from the highland cliff into the valley below. This panorama, taken from within the natural bowl and under the arch, is an attempt to share a little of what it was like to be there, though really, how can one possibly capture the feel of this place? As Porter said, “Just something as simple as that fence and sign, they alter your relationship in the landscape…you get an artificial view…in order to even start to understand this place, you have to go sit over there, or over here, and look at the moving clouds. Go sit over there and wait. You may get a bit of understanding.”

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