Pictura Gallery

Michael Sherwin | Vanishing Points

April 6, 2022

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One of the things we have missed during the pandemic is getting to introduce new artists to our Bloomington community. That made celebrating the opening events of this past weekend with Michael Sherwin all the sweeter for us. The First Nations Educational and Cultural Center generously hosted a round table discussion with Michael and students, he gave a great talk at the opening and then helped to host a kid’s workshop the following morning.

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Vanishing Points is a quiet project, built from Michael Sherwin’s respectful receptivity to the land he photographs. The pace of the project echoes the slow and steady development of the work. Sherwin is careful to be present for the morning light, perhaps the most reverential time of day. He brings the weight of a large format camera to the scene, taking the time to see carefully. There is a hint here, in how to approach the land’s native origins, with less of the self, and more space for understanding to develop.

This exhibition was built to emphasize relationships between the pictures. Shown in pairs, the content of one photograph can illuminate its neighboring image. George Washington, Black Hills National Forest, shows the audacious scale that one group of people used to make a permanent mark on the sacred Lakota land of the Black Hills. The adjacent image, Eagle Feather, Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark calls attention to a small trace left by another person, just as Sherwin found it the morning he went to photograph at Bighorn Medicine Wheel.

Artifacts are littered throughout the exhibition, disrupting the flow of the landscapes. They are out of context; stark white backgrounds make them specimens for a museum. In a clever reversal of the term, Sherwin’s Artifacts are modern American items; energy drinks, insect killer and cheap discards. They are typical, but also particularly ecologically irresponsible objects. And they will survive us for centuries.

Geological time is hard to comprehend. While there are moments of violent collision and sudden explosive change, more often there are long stretches of time when the very real, but subtle tectonic shifts are not visible to the naked eye. In Vanishing Points, Sherwin sifts through the stratum to understand the layers of history that are embedded within the land.

View more of Michael’s work here.