Artist Statement

Robert Hesse

A lifetime as a research scientist has taught me that what is important cannot be reduced to words and numbers. We rely on art for the vital part which cannot be counted or put into words. An artist’s statement, then, is much like a silent film of a concert. We can see the instruments and players but are left to imagine the music. I have been taking pictures for nearly a half century. While some believe that the camera captures reality, I am drawn to the way a camera flattens, isolates, overwhelms with the insignificant, and, like Kokopelli, continually surprises. Gary Winograd supposedly said "I take photographs so that I can see how something looks photographed". That speaks to me. What a camera leaves out can be more important than what it takes in. It clears clutter and visual cacophony revealing the richness, beauty, and magic in the everyday, the ordinary, the overlooked, or abandoned. I sometimes say that my art lies in "curating the monkeys". For every monkey at a typewriter, there is a myriad scattering, arranging, shaping, eroding, occasionally leaving a bit of visual magic. Here a Hopper, there an O'Keeffe, sometimes a Pollock, a Rothko, a Chamberlain. Redoute and Sesshu show up along with the visions of artists unremembered or unborn. Sometimes they leave a scene from a story we're invited to continue, sometimes a half remembered dream, sometimes an empty stage set awaiting the actors, sometimes glyphs in a language we must struggle to learn. I celebrate my camera's help in finding these treasures and revealing them to others. Because I prize the accidental and the unexpected, I try to get my artwork out of the frame (and occasionally off the wall). So, I print on unconventional media ranging from metal plates to filmy silk. I want my work to be touchable, easy to put up, to take down, to rearrange. Sometimes I want it to move with breezes, let light shine through, change with the day. I want it to keep you surprised.