We live in times of great unrest ‐- politically, socially, culturally. The beauty and old violence in Eliot Dudik’s photographs remind us that generations of people have lived on this earth in similar times. The stillness in these photographs both reassures and disturbs us. The land abides and heals, regenerates, but the violence emerges elsewhere year after year. How do we flourish despite our collective stumbles? The schisms are many yet we look for meaning in the face of adversity. Like the land, we seek resilience. Resurgence. Equanimity. As we reflect on the year behind and launch in to a new year ahead, we want to pause and consider how we might learn from our own mistakes or missed opportunities. To cultivate beauty among the decay. To act as better humans, better neighbors, better friends. To flourish despite our stumbles.
~ the Editors, Hawk & Handsaw
Words from the Artist. The idea of history repeating itself generally associates with the notion that an attempt to recognize mistakes of the past leads to prevention of recurrence. Current political and cultural polarization in the United States seems to have blinded citizens to the effects of historical schisms: divisions that, having not been recognized and resolved, led to the horrific and devastating events of the American Civil War. The current political divide in this country is not dissimilar to that of mid-nineteenth century America, and to severely compound these issues, political leaders today, as before, are apparently incapable of lasting and formative solutions.
Perspective on the Civil War and contemporary culture are vast and deeply engrained in our heritage. Prying open and examining viewpoints objectively is exceedingly difficult, but an essential responsibility for all citizens to allow any possibility of cultural and political cohesion. My goals are to create landscapes that come alive with the acts of war, and cause, at least, contemplation of the nature of being American, to allow understanding, communication, and cooperation with fellow citizens. These photographs are an attempt to preserve American history, not to relish it, but recognize it cyclical nature and to derail that seemingly inevitable tendency for repetition.
Eliot Dudik is a photographic artist, educator, and bookmaker exploring the connection between culture, memory, landscape, history, and politics. He was awarded the PhotoNOLA Review Prize in 2014 for his Broken Land and Still Lives portfolio, resulting in a book publication and solo exhibition. Broken Land was most recently published as a feature in the July/August 2015 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. FLASH FORWARD 2015 chose the series for publication and exhibition in Toronto and Boston. His photographs have been installed in group and solo exhibitions across the United States and Canada including Dishman Art Museum (TX), Morris Museum of Art (GA), Masur Museum of Art (LA), Muscarelle Museum of Art (VA), Cassilhaus (NC), Annenberg Space for Photography (CA), Columbia Museum of Art (SC), Southeast Museum of Photography (FL), New Orleans Photo Alliance (LA), Carlson Gallery at the University of La Verne (CA), and the Division Gallery in Toronto, Canada, for examples. Upcoming solo exhibitions also include the Griffin Museum of Photography (MA) and the Center for Fine Art Photography (CO). Eliot is currently founding the photography program within the Department of Art and Art History at the College of William & Mary where he is currently teaching and directing the Andrews Gallery at the college.