Memphis Barbree is a photographer, artist, platinum printer, and master black-and-white digital printer. Using each photograph and series to chart the exploration of a specific time and place, she has turned her lens to subjects including the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coastline during the 2010 British Petroleum oil disaster, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the landscape of New Mexico, and California’s coastal redwoods.
Memphis Barbree's process of photography is experiential, intuitive, contemplative and a practice of unity with the moment. It is an extension of her life’s practice of seeing each moment and experience as an opportunity for personal revelation and growth into a more whole being.
The work she has gathered to share during her month as Artist In Residence at Edition One Gallery is comprised mostly of the folio, I New Mexico. This folio is a collection of works from the early days of her photographic practice. Each of the twelve photographs in the folio is named for the place it was photographed, yet each of them is about more than a place. Like the Southern Literature on which she was raised, a sense of place is central to her work, but it is not the whole story. These photographs are about an experience of the timelessness of a moment, the depth of shadow in light, the presence of stillness in motion, the dance of Yin and Yang, and the silence in the center of everything.
The print titled Pilar, New Mexico is of particular significance in the development of my photographic practice. It was the first exposure in which Barbree successfully recorded an event that authentically described a moment as she experienced it, rather than simply a rendition of a person, place, or thing. This photograph is also the first photograph that she considers a successful expression as a Black and White fine print.
The prints are presented in frames that she milled, cut, and assembled from rough-cut walnut and maple. As an artist, the presentation of the work is as integral to the process as the making of the print itself.
Other works that Barbree is sharing, include a long-term personal project about U.S. Army veterans who were stationed at Fort McClellan in Alabama. Thousands of these veterans have ongoing chronic health issues that they connect to their time at the military base. Fort McClellan was home to a large segment of the Army’s nuclear, biological, and chemical training, testing, and storage. This is a work in progress that she started last spring and will continue for years to come. It is currently being expressed as a blog at www.fmvets.org and will be developed in other forms as the project matures.
Memphis Barbree speaks about her artistic process.
Video by Mark Berndt