April 4-28, 2011 • Book Signing and Artist Reception Saturday, April 9, 5-7pm
by photographer Richard Sexton
Exhibit on loan from Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans
Less dramatic than the Pacific coast with its rocky promontories and frothy jade surf, and more intimate than the imposing shores of the Atlantic, the Gulf Coast has long been overlooked as one of America's defining regions. Consequently, it is this country's neglected Third Coast, or such is the premise on which an exhibition and a new book by New Orleans photographer Richard Sexton are based.
Sexton has chosen to ignore the easiest and most eye-catching subjects in favor of something deeper and more subtle. In so doing, he sets an intentionally high bar that is challenging in any number of ways. Sexton, a Georgia native who grew up near the Okefenokee Swamp, focuses his lens on the vacant beaches and desiccated foliage of the Gulf Coast in winter, a time when its unbridled baroque opulence gives way to a sparseness of line and form, a silver-gray rectitude rendered in classic black-and-white photographs. In that sense, it is a very Lenten vision, a meditation on transience and temporality.
In “Terra Incognita” Sexton explores the oft-overlooked landscape in a sequence of dramatic duotone photographs. Covering the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi River to the Florida panhandle, Sexton’s images of woods and wetlands resonate with spare simplicity and quiet beauty.
More about the Book and the Artist...
Gallery exhibitions and collections of Sexton's photographs are an outgrowth of his book projects, commissions as an architectural photographer, and personal, or self-assigned, projects. Like many media photographers before him, his recognition and achievements on the printed page have spawned an alternate career as an artist and have been the impetus for speaking engagements in the arts community.
With successful books in print and works published in numerous magazines and newspapers throughout the United States and Europe, Richard Sexton has become noted as a photographer, artist, writer, critic, teacher, and author.
Sexton teaches photography at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, a private art school, and previously taught photography at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco.
In the early 90s, shortly after moving from San Francisco to New Orleans, Richard Sexton began making black and white landscape photographs of the gulf coast. Over the years, he slowly added to this body of work. After fifteen years, the potential for a book-length volume of work emerged. Sexton approached Chronicle Books, a publisher with which he had a long and successful history creating books devoted to architecture, design, lifestyle, and urbanism. Terra Incognita: Photographs of America’s Third Coast was somewhat different in that it was conceived as a fine art photography book. In Terra Incognita Sexton’s photographs are the central focus of the work.
The beautiful duotones in this book, subtitled Photographs of America's Third Coast, reveal a photographer with a painter's patience - the desolation in these views along the Gulf Coast imply a long trek before the tripod is even set down. Nothing in these extremely fine-grained prints remotely resembles a "snapshot." Black branches of dead trees scribble across luminously gray skies; humps of white sand scoured by the wind contrast with frazzled skeins of vegetation darkening their lee sides; Spanish moss drips down like the turpentine drizzles in an abstract -expressionistic painting; distant shorelines are as soft and gray as charcoal smudges. Sexton's spare compositions coalesce into a portrait of nature as the ultimate abstractionist.