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Richard Laugharn:
Photographs

 

Exhibition: Richard Laugharn: Photographs
Dates: November 30 – January 10, 2007
Opening Reception: Friday, December 1st from 5:30-7:30 p.m. 
Location: Temple Gallery, 330 South Scott Avenue, in the Temple of Music and Art.
The Temple Gallery is managed by Etherton Gallery
Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 10-6 p.m. and prior to performances
Contact: info@ethertongallery.com, 624-7370

 

“As soon as you fall in love with a place, you get concerned about that place.”  And the “place” that photographer Richard Laugharn speaks of is the remote desert of the Southwest, a place he wants to absorb and record and ultimately ask, how does change take place and how does time change our relationship to that place?  

Laugharn, born in New York City and raised in Los Angeles, lost his bi-coastal roots when he began to spend countless weekends in the Mohave Desert before ultimately deciding to move to the Sonoran desert.  He lived for several years in Tucson before moving to his current home in Tempe.
Laugharn’s interest in environmental issues and his love affair with the desert fueled his lengthy project to photograph more than 80 desert plants in Arizona, Sonora and California and then to return to see what has happened to them time and again.  

His commitment to these plants, he notes, is perhaps what makes him different from other landscape photographers who may visit a place once for a photograph and then move on.  The strategy behind what Laugharn wants to acknowledge is that plants, among other things, change over time and it is that change which represents the world in which we live; natural change that happens through temperature, climate and time.  

In addition to Laugharn’s love of the environment is his interest in, and pleasure of, 19th century botanical illustration. Early botanical drawings were exquisitely structured, finely rendered and scientifically notated.  Laugharn harkens back to those thoroughly wrought drawings in his close scrutiny of plants and in his decision to use text to emphasize the names of the desert plants he is documenting. At the same time he gives the plants a historical link in time to those earlier illustrations.  While early artists were documenting a specific plant for scientific record, Laugharn’s hundreds of trips into the desert over a six-year period look to identify not only the overt but even the most subtle changes over time. The effects of drought, heat, water and wind are as important to Laugharn’s capture as the most individual plant or carpet of spring wildflowers.

Looking at these desert plants – the saguaros, creosote, organ pipes—and the way nature has arranged them, informs his decision to organize the photographs the way he has.  It is that natural balance he wants to emulate, and his use of negative space in the plane is partially inspired by a plant’s placement on the desert floor.

Laugharn successfully describes what he sees with his assembly of text, and both black and white and color imagery. And while he uses a large format 4 x 5 film capture, the photographer sees the computer, he says, as the obvious way to combine all of these essential elements. 

Richard Laugharn looks to the desert for solace, solitude and the ever-changing rhythm of nature, of which we are all part.  The inspired echo of that change, in Laugharn’s hands, is a hopeful one, where despite the ravages of the environment, both natural and unnatural, he remains committed to telling the story of a place he loves.


Photographer Richard Laugharn is a former Tucsonan now living and working in Tempe, Arizona. He holds a BA in Art from California State University, Long Beach and an MFA from Arizona State University. His work is in the permanent collections of The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; Arizona State University; and the Snell and Wilmer Collection. Represented in Tucson by Etherton Gallery, he is available for interviews upon request.

Please contact the gallery at info@ethertongallery.com to schedule an interview or for more information about the artist or his work.

 

Gallery hours are Monday - Friday 10am-6pm
and prior to Arizona Theatre Company performances

The Temple Gallery is managed by
ETHERTON GALLERY
Phone: 520-624-7370

TEMPLE GALLERY
at the Temple of Music and Art
330 South Scott Avenue
Tucson, Arizona

Etherton - Temple Gallery