Artist and educator Debra Bloomfield is preoccupied with environmental conservation and timeless, uninhabited lands. A solo show of her work, titled “Wilderness” and presented by Robert Koch Gallery in San Francisco, includes more than five years of Bloomfield’s pigment ink prints depicting the coastal areas of Southern Alaska.
By photographing desolate landscapes and scenery, Bloomfield intends to start a conversation about these beautiful but threatened spaces. Wilderness 06402-8-10 (2010) is an image of a dense thicket of trees; interwoven branches form a web of white with subtle swathes of green grass poking from behind a thin layer of snow. Works like this highlight the delicate elements of the forest, in turn suggesting the fragility of its ecosystem. Wilderness 02076-8-07 (2007) depicts a lone islet in the middle of a body of water, with a small forest of evergreen trees on its bank, huddled together as though for warmth. The image calls to mind rising ocean waters and the flooding of land—was this small piece of terrain once a part of a larger land mass? Has it recently become submerged?
Other photographs in the show are characterized by spare, soothing compositions. In Wilderness 02082-8-07 (2007), a simple ocean horizon features shallow turquoise waves and a misty fog. Nothing beyond a calm wind troubles the water’s surface; it’s easy to soak in its cool colors and soft textures. In fact, Giorgio Armani enjoyed it so much he selected it to be the cover image of the curated “ACQUA” exhibition at the fall 2014 edition of Paris Photo. Wilderness 03442-8-12 (2012) is almost perfectly split horizontally between powdery white snow on the ground and the bottom branches of lush evergreen trees; it’s inviting and serene, with a certain purity and clarity that could only be found in the wilderness.