Van Dyke Street, Brooklyn, New York

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Solitude and the Populous City

As a child growing up in a small Southern city, I was filled with wonder when our family visited New York City. It appeared as a gigantic stage set for the play of fantasies and dreams. When I returned as a graduate student in photography, I explored on foot and at twilight the streets of the city I had been whisked through by car and found the magic this time not only in its iconic buildings but in deserted places where the city seemed to be dreaming its own dreams and where I could dream mine.

Although my photographs frequently captured such unpopulated urban scenes, a single, sometimes ghosted, figure occasionally entered the picture. At first, I thought of these figures as interlopers, representatives of the crowds I was attempting to flee. Gradually, however, I welcomed them as stray walkers, like myself, whose presence served to intensify the solitude and sense of dreaming.

Now, in photographs taken in central and fringe areas at twilight and dawn, I want to continue using figures to explore the possibilities for solitude in a highly populous city. During the day, city-dwellers can feel like human corpuscles in a never-ending circulation of traffic. Buildings and other structures can appear as mere backdrops to this circulation and others around us as pedestrian-clones. With my photographs, I aim to counter the numbing sense of predictable routes and urban routines by revealing unexpected places in the city as settings for quiet meditation and dreaming.