In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard writes,
“I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold up his head has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn’t the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to find out. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it: he’ll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why.”
I’ll admit that my mother’s attention to details used to bore me. Ten years ago, if she had encouraged me to photograph the windows of a middle school whose track butted the garage, I would have ignored her. But what kind of traveler would I be if I had not internalized her philosophy that life is art? It is our job to pay attention to the details.
Below is a series of photographs taken from late August to late September. Central Middle School backs up to my parents’ house. Most evenings, when I got home from work around 7:20, I would photograph the school. I began to notice how dramatic the day-to-day change in light was. My mother calls it, “our personal mountain range” because the light against the glass is like the light against the snow on a mountain peak.
Unfortunately, a month into the project, my schedule changed and I now come home too late to see the sunset. Now that I’ll be leaving in November, watching the light has become more important. I don’t particularly like Columbus; several months in a small town feels stifling to me; I grew up mostly in Chicago and Minneapolis. But this town has been photogenic and the area is unique.