Trees of Life

Artist Michael Eastman's expressive photographic images

37 x 45 inches, ink-jet print on 100% rag paper

THE ARTIST Michael Eastman

KNOWN FOR Nearly 50 years of exquisitely expressive photographic images—of landscapes, street scenes, architecture, horses and trees.

LIFE LINES “By photographing trees on their own, sort of isolated from the forest, they become transformed. You really start to look at the structure. The tree is just like the veins in our bodies. And when you look at photos of the Earth from space there’s that same organization, that same organic growth. I think that’s one of the things I love about those trees; they really become a microcosm of life.”

PORTRAITS “What happened to the tree as it grew, that made it what it is, is so much more visible to us than the scars and changes that people have. With a tree you really see it all; you see death and decay, branches that are not vital lines anymore but are sort of starting to become decrepit. That’s another part of it—the passage of time, and the understanding that we’re just like them.”

ARTFUL MANIPULATION “I was always interested in alternative processes, investigating all kinds of ways of creating prints. Some of these are photo transfer, others are cyanotype—and I’m doing things like painting on them; literally taking either watercolor or acrylics and mixing light washes that I just paint over them.”

INTO THE UNKNOWN “I don’t know exactly where I’m heading when I’m doing these things. It’s all about making smart mistakes. It’s about printmaking, exploration, experimentation and pushing the idea of what a photograph is. The photograph itself is not the end; it’s the beginning. I want to always be engaged in thinking about how I can change it, make it my own, make it different—and, hopefully, make it great.”

NEXT Eastman is creating books based on his New Orleans series and tree series.

Categories: Artists & Artisans