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David Wilkes


David Wilkes

Helen Gutfreund
Dan McCormack
Martha Klein
Lauree Feldman
Matt Maley
Peter Sheehan
Susan Slotnick
Barbara Holt
David Holt
Tom Nolan
Marcy Bernstein
Alex Canelos
Martin Davis
Jeffrey Goldman
Laszlo Andacs
Jing Shuai

About the Artist

I end up in a place I didn’t expect when I pick up my camera, despite endless planning. Photography reminds me to be joyous when nothing goes the way I anticipated. Joyous. Tossing out the frustration of mistakes and embracing the surprises and still doing all the planning the next time anyway, just because that’s the way I roll.

So much in an image that I can’t control. So much magic that derives from the combination of this mechanical recording tool and whatever attracts my eye. When I am making images I am more present than at any other time: a thrill runs up my spine, like a runner’s high, as I move about, arrange my subject, study the light, fire the shutter and relentlessly pursue the best I am capable of, whatever the results.​

Until recently, I identified only as a lawyer and didn’t refer to myself as an artist for fear of sounding like a fraud. On a mid-life whim, I signed up for a photography workshop. For once I was free to say “I know nothing – teach me!” I allowed myself what I cannot easily do as a lawyer: admit complete ignorance and a desire to learn.

I soon had a collection of cameras, most from an almost forgotten era – and was shooting on film and printing in a darkroom and caring about lens aberration. I wanted to know everything there was to know. How are photons translated into electrons in a digital sensor? History. Technique. Styles. Mechanics. And the big “why?” that I never got when I was growing up.​

Initially, I clung to the subjects I sought when I was younger and painting: Manhattan rooftops. It was a “safe” way to make art – solitude with a cooperative subject that didn’t move. I still enjoy making images of the City, especially at night, and water towers in particular on film – ubiquitous sentinels daring to break the straight lines of brick and glass in the airy solitude above the busy streets. But then, by a chance reconnection with an old friend, I found myself in Africa, documenting child labor conditions with my camera and an entirely different way to connect to the overlooked humanity of our time through the lens. As with every image I make, there is a rich story of the day it was recorded and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share this with you.

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