4/7/16

Welcome Page


Welcome to The Departing Landscape website
    Steven D. Foster
                 


"Visual Poem" for The Departing Landscape Project 


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~ ~ Recently Added Project Links ~ ~
April 2, 2017
March 12, 2017
February 14, 2017
January 27, 2017
New Years Day, 2017
December 9, 2016
November 15, 2016
October 10, 2016
September1 , 2016
Signs, Veils & the Symbolic Photograph
August 2, 2016
featuring the poems of Hafiz and other Poet-Saints

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~ Click on all images to enlarge ~
~ Click on Blue Hyperlinked Words to Open Links ~ 
  THIS PAGE WAS LAST REVISED: April 2, 2017
                                        

Introduction
Welcome to the Departing Landscape Website which is dedicated to exploring, and sharing with you, my creative process in photographic picture-making.  In January, 2017, I once again revised this Welcome Page.  You will find here a complete listing, in chronological order, of my online photography projects, beginning with the most recently completed projects; I have also included some projects dating back as early as the mid-1960's.  In cases where the project consists of only one link, the title of the project over the representative image is hyperlinked.  However, please note that some of the projects consist of multiple pages, each with their own separate link.  In such cases the list of links for the project are provided below the representative image.  

Any words, titles or directives that have been highlighted in dark blue are hyperlinked; just click on the link and you will be taken to the page dedicated to that particular project.  I invite you to visit my Personal History of Photography which is an illustrated biographical chronology of my experience in photography.  

I began constructing this website in 2010, three years after I retired from teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  In 2008 my wife Gloria and I moved to Canandaigua, NY.  In 2012, after exhibiting my work in a commercial gallery in Rochester, NY (click here) I made the decision to focus all my creative energies toward the production of online photography projects--specifically for presentation on this website.  The Departing Landscape Website has thus become both an "exhibition space" for my work and an archive of most of the photography projects I have created over my career which dates back to 1955, when I experienced an Epiphany that set me on my path as a photographer. I have written a brief essay about that life transforming experience, and two others as well, further below. 

In January I added a new section to this page, Collections of Related Projects.  Each link will take you to a page which includes multiple projects on the themes of landscape, sacred art, music, contact information, resume, etc.

All photographs on this page, and on most of my project pages, can be enlarged by clicking on the image once, twice. (You may come across a few images in some of the projects that cannot be enlarged.)  After enlarging an image, click on the left-pointing arrow in the upper left corner of the screen to return to the project page.

Thank you for visiting my website, The Departing Landscape. 


About the Title of My Website
Many of my photography projects have been directly or indirectly inspired by music.  This website's title The Departing Landscape was taken from a phrase the great American composer Morton Feldman used to describe how sound leaves us in our hearing as it decays into silence.

When I created this website I had in the process of completing a multi-chaptered project entitled The Departing Landscape.  The project title reflects not only my fascination with Feldman's music and ideas; it also reflects my deep and growing concern for the safety and well being of our beautiful Planet Earth, and all of its many forms of life.  It is growing sicker and sicker every day due to man-made pollutions.  We have already passed the tipping point were we can turn the process of decay of the planet; now all we can do is try to slow the process of decay and dissolution.  The Departing Landscape, then serves as a metaphor for how the planet is leaving us as it decays into silence.  


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Collections of Related Projects

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The Music Inspired Photography Projects  (click here)
Composer Morton Feldman, Steve Lacy, Thelonius Monk, Charles Ives, Chopin, Liszt, William Bolcom, Delius, Vaughn Williams, Frank Bridge, Wagner, Valentin Silvestrov . . . 

The "Studies" projects  (click here)

The Sacred Art Photography Projects  (click here)

Landscape Photography Projects  (click here)

The Thing-Centered Photographs  (click here)

Still Life  (click here)
Note:  The link I have provided here goes to my project entitled Still Life, inspired by the painting of the great Italian still life and landscape artist Morandi.  There are ten chapters plus an Epilogue to the project, so it is far ranging in conceptual and visual scope.  I have made many "still life" photographs for the many Studies projects as well.  

Other Important Projects  (click here)

Collected Writings (click here)

Resume, Contact Information, Brief Bio, etc  (click here)


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Influences 
While I was living in Rochester, NY and going to school at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a photography major (1963-66), I studied with Minor White, and I also took two year-long home workshops with Nathan Lyons.  At that time Nathan was Director or Exhibitions at George Eastman House, in Rochester, NY; in the early 1970's he would become the founder and director of the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. 

I then went to Chicago and studied with Aaron Siskind and Wynn Bullock while completing my undergraduate degree at the Institute of Design (1966-68).  In graduate school at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, I studied with Van Deren Coke, Beaumont Newhall and Ray Metzker.  In 1974, when I was teaching at Georgia State University, Atlanta I was fortunate in being able to spend three days in close contact with one of my mentors, Fredrick Sommer.

Other influences include: photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston; and many painters have influenced my work, such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Morandi.  (I have created projects directly inspired by Morandi and Klee.)  I have also been influenced by writers and scholars including Carl Jung, Henry Corbin, Tom Cheetham, Gaston Bachelard; and the poets Robert Bly, Rainer Maria Rilke, Francis Ponge and Joseph Donahue.  I have dedicated an entire page (see above) to the influence music has had on my work. 



The Symbolic Photograph
When I was a Graduate student in New Mexico (1969-72) I became close friends with a fellow photography student, Dick Knapp, who introduced me to the ideas and writings of depth psychologist Carl Jung.  I then took a class in Mythology which emphasized Jung's psychological-archetypal perspectives.  Indeed, the inherent power of the material covered in that class, the teacher's passion for the material, and Jung's profoundly insightful view of the world and the psyche persuaded me to devote my MFA written thesis to an examination of my creative process in photography in relation to Jung's ideas, especially those regarding the symbol, the archetypes, his study of alchemy, and his theory about synchronicity.  Indeed, at that time (1972) I was convinced that synchronicity was at the very center of the power of my creative process and the symbolic photograph; and it has remained a very important concept to me even today.  I titled my thesis :  The Symbolic Photograph : A Means to Self-Knowledge ~ A Jungian Approach to the Photographic Opus.  I have outlined the key ideas at this link: click here  

Despite my spiritual leanings, and my fascination with Jung's ideas, I became discontent with myself as a person.  Even though I was doing well in my career as a teacher and exhibiting artist, and I was married to a wonderful woman and we had two wonderful children, I began feeling deep inside myself that these things in themselves were not fulfilling me in the way that I had hoped they would.  I was longing for something more, and intuitively I sensed that I needed a teacher, a true teacher, though I could not quite consciously admit this to myself, nor could I have ever imagined how I would find what I was longing for.



The Epiphany of 1987
I have since learned that life has a way of giving us what we need if the longing is deep enough and pure enough.  I was eventually led--reluctantly at first--to Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the living head and meditation Master of the Siddha Yoga Path.  After I met her in August, 1987, I experienced a series of amazing, life-transforming encounters with grace, the sacred energy known as chiti shakti, which left no doubt in my mind--and more importantly, in my heart--that I had found my teacher.  Gurumayi, and the practices of Siddha Yoga have had a profound influence on my life, including my creative process in photography.  I have come to understand that photography, for me, is a form of spiritual practice, a kind of meditation in action.  I have written about my life-transforming experiences with Gurumayi, and the relationships between my practice of photography and the practices of Siddha Yoga in full detail in my multi-chaptered project Photography and Yoga


The Epiphany of 2011
In 2011, while my wife Gloria and I were traveling in Turkey, I had another series of mysterious experiences--what Henry Corbin would define as intuitive, visionary experiences, psychic events, encounters with the sacred--all directly related to various forms of Islamic Sacred Art.  The most important of these experiences took place in the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum in Istanbul.  As I was looking at a collection of old, magnificently illuminated Qur'ans, one of the books seemed to come alive.  I experienced this beautiful, sacred book as if it were "breathing."  It seemed literally radiant with a self-luminous presence.  The book seemed to emit a palpable sacred energy which I felt flowed into and through my body.  After I left the museum I experienced a renewed enthusiasm for art-making.  

The sacred or divine energy that I experienced in Turkey is the same energy I experience in my practice of yoga.  I have no doubt that the grace I had received from Gurumayi, since meeting her in 1987, had prepared me, "opened" me, allowed me to be receptive to the sacred  presence embodied within that illuminated Qur'an. 

After I got back home and started working on a blog about the trip, it occurred to me, with stunning surprise, that I did not understand the true nature of what is commonly called "sacred art."  A deep desire welled up within me, a strong inner conviction: I needed to know what "sacred art" was at its most essential level, and what it must mean for me since I had became obsessed wanting to understand it.   I studied intensely to gain both an historical perspective, but also, more importantly, I wanted to have a deeply personal and conscious relationship with the idea of sacred art through my own creative process in photography.


So many questions came up for me: 
Was sacred art possible today?  Could sacred art be manifested through a contemporary art practice (such as my own?) in a world so tarnished by fear and anger, corporate and political corruption, the rapid decay of the natural world 

My studies led me to the writings of many wonderful scholars, but the most important ones, for me, were Henry Corbin and his writings on Sufism, the mystical aspect of Islam, and the writings of Tom Cheetham, whose four contemplative books on Corbin's work helped me to see more clearly the deeper nuances of Corbin's ideas and motivated me to read Corbin directly.  What had begun as a simple travel blog of Turkey slowly blossomed into the very large, ambitious, multi-chaptered project, "An Imaginary Book."  This project, which took nearly two years to complete, then unfolded into the continuing and rapidly growing series of related Sacred Art Photography Projects.


When I was teaching and exhibiting my work in commercial galleries, I was shy and extremely careful about speaking openly on matters of the spiritual in my work.  It was only after meeting Gurumayi and practicing Siddha Yoga in a committed enthusiastic way for many years, and had many palpable, profoundly transforming experiences of the sacred energy known as shakti, that I began to feel some willingness and confidence to speak from personal experience about my relationship to the sacred through my creative process in photography.


The making of of this website and the creation of "An Imaginary Book" were two closely related turning points in my creative process.  The website gave me the forum through which I could more publicly contemplate, visually explore, and verbally articulate the theme of the sacred within my creative process.  I had also retired from teaching and exhibiting, and had moved from Milwaukee, where I had lived and taught and exhibited for 33 years, to a new town, Canandaigua, in New York State.  Clearly, the time had come for me to speak openly about what was most important to me, and I found the process of creating photography projects online very satisfying in the way that they have provided me with an intimate and articulate means of showing my photographs along with my written expression of the ideas and experiences embedded in the work.  As I was contemplating my own creative process in this new forum, I was also sharing my work, making it available to others as well.  The sharing of one's work with others creates a feeling of completion to the creative process as a whole.   



The Epiphany of 1955
When I was nearly ten years of age I experienced a profoundly important moment of self-recognition that directed me to my life's work in photography.  One day, in the summer of 1955, my cousin came running excitedly toward me with something he wanted to show me.  In his hands--which he held out to me as if in a gesture of offering something very precious to him--were a batch of snapshots he had just gotten back from the drugstore.  When I saw those little photographs I knew instantaneously that I must become, I would become a photographer.

My dad was in the hospital when this happened; he would die a few weeks later.  In fact I actually experienced his death in a feverish dream-like state the night he passed away. . . but that is another story (#5).  A few months later, I received--as a Christmas present I had asked for--a darkroom kit with which I could process my own film and make little contact prints from my negatives.  I set up a temporary darkroom in the basement and from that moment on devoted my life to photographic picture-making. 


It is quite clear to me, now, that photography had come to me as a sacred gift.  Grace had helped me to discover my destined life as a photographer and teacher--I have no doubts about that.  Indeed, photography filled the space of my absent father; it took me out of a small town in Ohio and into an unlikely world of art galleries, museums, and universities; and it helped me find my true teacher, Gurumayi and the Siddha Yoga Path.  


See my online chronology A Personal History of Photography for detailed accounts of my 1955 epiphany.



Gratitude

When I look carefully, contemplatively at my life and the experiences that have graced me over the past seventy-plus years, I can sense that there has been an overarching connection between things, a meaning and direction to my life, as if I had been guided by some unknown invisible force.  I have come to realize that grace has transformed my life in the most profound ways and I feel eternally grateful for the love and support I have received from wife Gloria and my children, my friends and my students, my photography and my relationship with Gurumayi and Siddha Yoga.  

I know it is difficult for most people to understand what a true teacher, a yoga Master like Gurumauyi, can mean in a person's life, for indeed it is relatively unusual and mysterious.  There are many false gurus that have surely led many students astray and made people in general very distrustful of spiritual teachers.  One can only proceed and grow if their experience feels True.  Thus I am grateful beyond saying for Gurumayi's presence in my life.  Her grace is a great and wonderful mystery, a Supreme Gift.  Ultimately yoga is an alchemical process which consists primarily of transforming or purifying the ego so that the heart can open.  Though its not an easy process, and the transitions one must face and move through are very challenging, I believe that the yogic purification process is essential to any true creative process.  Indeed, every life is a creative process, and I am grateful for the way photography has become, for me, an integral part of that process.   

Thank you for visiting my website and viewing my projects and their photographs.  Your participation in the work is an important and integral part of my creative process.  


Steven D Foster  

revised: January, 2017
  
             
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The 

Complete List 
~ Photography Projects ~

In Chronological Order, 
from the Most Recent and 
Dating Back to the mid-1960's 

  click on the blue hyperlinked titles 

to see the online projects

~ click on the images to enlarge them ~


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The Siva Sutra Rock Photographs
April 2, 2017




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The Pulsating Uncreated Heart : Origin & Center of Creation
March 12, 2017




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Creation-Dissolution of a World
February 14, 2017






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Grace-Photograph-Symbol-Universe

January 27, 2017




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Time  Time-Changes  Sacred Time 
New Year's Day, 2017





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Snow Angels
Rilke's Angel of the Elegies
Khidr, Angel of the Earth
December 9, 2016





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Death
A Meditation
in Photographs & Texts
November 15, 2016



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Broad Brook Photographs 
9-10 & 9-11 .  2016
October 10, 2016




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Studies : Sufism
Signs, Veils, the Symbolic Photograph
"records of encounters with God
in the details of everyday life"
September, 2016



Part I : Introduction & Photographs
Part II : Text Excerpts from William Chittick's book: Sufism  [forthcoming]
 Part III : Commentaries on the photographs and texts

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Photographs & Poetry
featuring the poems of 
Hafiz 
and other Poet-Saints
August, 2016



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Zoo Photographs
July, 2016




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The City of Souls
June, 2016




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Babysitting Photographs

May 4, 2016



Sleepy Baby Stroller Views & Dreamscapes
On the Ground Floor
Symmetrical Constructions
Commentaries & Epilogue

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There is No Thing To Know 
April, 2016




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The Blue Pearl
March, 2016




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The Center of Being  
Thing-Centered Symmetrical Photographs
January-February, 2016 




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Field of Vision
December, 2015

  


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As Above, So Below ~ Mirror In the Temple

  November 3, 2015




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Photography and Yoga
June-October, 2015 





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Snow : Photographs  from The Silver World  
January ~ May 2015 







August, 2014




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Still Life
Photographs Inspired by Giorgio Morandi  
July 2013- April 2014



   2006 - 2013 




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"An Imaginary Book"  
2011 - 2013
The Complete Collection of  Projects 
inspired by Islamic Sacred Art & Sacred Knowledge


  
The Nine Core Projects:
Also:

The Hydrofacking Suite  
2011-12





The Departing Landscape Project  
2007-12 





  2005-09



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  2008-continuing




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  2010




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  2007-08




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  2007





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Triadic Memories Project  
2003-07 





  2003-07  / 1992-93







  1999-2000 




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  Studies II   2011 / 1994-2000  





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Studies I
1994 - 2000




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  1990-92







  1988-89 / 2011




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  1985-88




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City Places 
 1984-85 






Images of Eden
  1983-84




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Dream Portraits
  1982





Lake Series
  1981-82




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Intimate Landscape Series
  1980-81






Negative Print Series
  1978-80






Steve Lacy Series
  1977-78 / 2011




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The Persephone Series
  1976 / 2011




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In The Woods
  1974 / 2011





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Early Book Project
   1966  / 2013





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Videos 
in which my images are used






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Contact Information:
Steven D. Foster                                                                      
3906 Chatham Lane                                                            
Canandaigua, NY 14424                                                         
Tel. 585-394-2769
Email: sf@uwm.edu   
 




This was my last photography exhibition.  I have since then posted all of the fruits of 
my creative process to this blog-website. 

This link takes you to the Program Archive.  

 A Personal History of Photography 

This is an illustrated chronology about my involvement in photography, including personal stories, images from projects, much much more.




Thank you for visiting my Departing Landscape website.


SF




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