For almost four decades, Clift has photographed two monolithic sites that dominate their expansive landscapes: Shiprock, an eroded volcanic form that rises above the northwestern New Mexico desert and is sacred to the Navajo (Diné), and Mont St. Michel, a tidal island off the north coast of France that is famous for its Romanesque-Gothic church and monastery. In this selection of more than seventy beautiful photographs, Clift shares his ongoing, nuanced exploration of the two places.
“These are pictures of tremendous sensitivity and resonance,” said Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography at the museum. “The artist’s devoted pursuit of these two subjects from 1973 to the present demonstrates the kind of seeing that is possible with sustained concentration. It’s very different from how most photographers work today.”
The artist has long been recognized for his photographs of the New Mexico landscape but his work defies easy categorization. Born in Boston in 1944, Clift began making photographs at the age of ten with an early interest in Polaroid image making. As a teenager, he took a photography workshop with Paul Caponigro and was soon affiliated with many of the established practitioners of the medium. He moved to New Mexico in 1971, where he and his wife raised a family, and has earned a reputation as a thoughtful photographer and a meticulous printer. He is represented in the museum’s collection by twenty-four prints from across his career.
Regarding the exhibition, Ware said, “These photographs aren’t meant to catalog or document Shiprock and Mont St. Michel but are about the experience of being there. They capture the beauty as well as the danger of these archetypal sites in an evocative manner. The artist doesn’t add it all up for us -- what animates them is how we experience them as individual viewers.”
High resolution images may be downloaded from the Museum of New Mexico Media
Center here: http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/
Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography
New Mexico Museum of Art
Steve Cantrell, PR Manager
New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs