Linda Butler

Artist Statement American landscape photographers of the late 19th and early 20th century remind me of the towering forests of redwoods that they photographed – awesome, inspiring, yet intimidating.  Contemporary photographers who choose to work in the landscape face a daunting challenge: how to create compelling images that are not copies of the old masters.


My love of nature initially propelled me into photography.  As a child in the 1950’s, I explored the woods near my Wisconsin home and became entranced by the plants and birds I saw.  While living in California in 1978-81, the American desert fascinated me with its strange vegetation and graceful curves.  I returned to it repeatedly over a five-year period. Included in this exhibition are several of these early desert photographs as well as images that show the progression of my work over a twenty-year period.  In addition to revisiting old favorites, the exhibit provided the excuse to work with numerous negatives never before printed.


The photographs reflect my love of the land and continued struggle to present it with a fresh eye.  At the beginning of my career, I learned it was relatively easy to take pretty photographs.  It is far more difficult to capture a magical moment, or to evoke emotional content in the landscape.  After moving to Cleveland in 1992, I began an exploration of the region near my home.  To experiment, I exposed multiple negatives of a given subject, and created negative collages, and upside-down images.


In photography, I follow my emotions more than my head; I photograph what makes my heart speed up or my lips smile.  Sometimes light glances off a rock at a beguiling angle, or rainwater gushes into a streambed.  For a moment the humdrum world of everyday is transformed.  With the click of a shutter, I hope to hold onto that transcendent moment and preserve it on film – an extraordinary slice of time.