Prairie Line is a catalogue for a show of photographs by William Harper at the Flatfile Gallery in Chicago in February 2008.
William Harper writes:
These pictures were taken in marshes of northern Illinois. I’ve taken photographs in these places in every season studying the interaction of the rushes, cattails and lilies with their shadows and reflections on the water and ice of this shallow and slow moving stream.
Though my work can be described as formally based studies of line and shape in common events, I look for images and treatment of images that reach beyond their abstraction into mythology.
Photography provides a number of ways to make slight shifts in perspective that allows us to see things that are otherwise invisible. In the Dead River Trees series, I’ve turned the photographs all the way upside down providing an engaging mystery that doesn’t dissolve when the trick is discovered.
In a musical canon, two lines of identical counterpoint interact to create a harmonic progression that exists only in their interaction. Likewise, a bent rush and its reflection or shadow ghost a new form that doesn’t exist without this light driven interaction.
The sources of my musical intuitions are ephemeral and in constant motion and it is an aggressive and intensive effort to wrestle this intuition into form. When I compose music the impulses and ideas come from internal sources. When I am out in the weather, walking, looking, kneeling in a swamp, I remind myself that there are things to photograph everywhere and that after a while I will start to see my subjects. Photography quiets me and facilitates an access to an interaction with nature.