I come to this work as a painter, printmaker and photographer. I spent many years photographing wildlife and landscapes, and then began to focus on abstract images of tropical and local flowers. Several years ago, I found myself turning to the human world--to people in contexts, either in groups or alone. This is where “Connections” began.
My intention is to focus on people in candid moments, showing a specific interaction or feeling. I create a scene where people are juxtaposed with each other, so that the viewer sees them from different angles “all at once,”' as in a split screen movie. There are many ways of bringing connections alive. The piece dedicated to Andy Irons is a tribute to his connection to the world of surfing and to the land in which he was raised. He was a three time world champion surfer from Hanalei, Hawaii, where he was born and raised and then deeply mourned. The egret images come from my still active interest in wildlife and my own connection to the natural world.
In my composite work I play with scale and space, adding humor and fantasy to the mix. In portraits or action shots, as in the rodeo images from Kauai, I try to capture the intensity of feeling in in the face, the most expressive human feature. I suggest both what is on the face and what is going on behind it. Each moment tells the story of how people relate to each other and to the world around them. For example, in the wedding images, you see a rare glimpse of a couple after they have taken their vows in a small ceremony on a deserted beach on the north shore of Kauai. They are perhaps wondering, what have we done? I leave it to the viewer to interpret their expressions. I'm drawn to the intimacy of the moment and to social interactions. While some of these images were manipulated in photoshop, others are straightforward photographs, with only minimal changes made such as cropping.
My early influences were Edward Weston's landscapes and Dorothea Lange's portraits. These artists told the story of the time with such clarity and vision. Today the most influential photographer for me is Andreas Gursky who is able to capture a whole world in a photograph. His large works show a master in control of all the photographic techniques available today.
Sometimes my work is inspired by a single compelling image, such as the irresistible image of the shack in Arkansas Travelers. At other times I am watching like a street photographer, and show images of people in a city, as I did while I was traveling in Cartahenga, Columbia.
Above all I seek to communicate through images our illusive understanding of the world, and, like so many others before me, ask why we're here and what we're doing.
Toni Brown may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org