Yuma resident, David Emitt Adams has been collecting discarded cans from the Arizona desert floor. Some cans are over forty years old. They are rusty and worn and speak to the passage of time.
Adams uses the reddish-brown tin can surface as a vehicle for his wet-plate collodion photographs. The deserts of the American West were once documented by Civil War photographer, Timothy O’Sullivan and the photographic process itself has its roots in the 19th century. Adams says that the objects he creates are like relics. They have a history and the images themselves are tied to the location.
“I use the [rusty cans] to speak of human involvement with the landscape,” says Adams. “The notion of land untouched by the hand of man is so foreign it might as well be make-believe. As long as people have been in the American West, we have found its barren desert landscape to be an environment perfect for dumping and forgetting.”
A series of Adams’ work, Conversations with History, is featured in the Griffin Gallery of the Griffin Museum January 9 through March 2, 2014. An opening reception is January 23, 7-8:30 p.m.