DESERT SONGS: THE ART OF WILL ROGER PETERSON

“The desert could not be claimed or owned–it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names… Its caravans, those strange rambling feasts and cultures, left nothing behind, not an ember. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

ARTIST, TEACHER, INNOVATOR, CULTURAL FOUNDER + ENVIRONMENTALIST

The desert of North America and beyond is a place of enduring mystery, power, and natural beauty. It is a ruse that this space of earth seems to it a kind of blank canvas quality, and man is so often tricked into believing that the desert can be owned, harnessed conquered, and taken. The winds of sand will show such ambitiousness the way, through veils of heavy sand, blinding, erasing, wounding, starving, and burying. For its unrelenting power, beauty, and majestic spirit, any artists have come to love respect and even fear the desert. This symbiotic way of interacting is very much at core of American artist Will Roger Peterson’s photographic practice.

Peterson is a conservationist, creator, and teacher. Having served as Chairman of Sierra Front, North Western Great Basin Resource Advisory Council and President of the Friends of the Black Rock-High Rock, he is the sort of forward thinking artist and radical thinker you want to know, his approach has an openness and fearless that we could all learn from. So after encountering his work, it is no surprise this man is also a co-founder of Burning Man. In all of his work, Peterson requires of his audience openness to power and mystery of the natural world, whether it be from a panoramic aerial perspective the Black Rock Desert, the multi-faceted and intellectually engaging black and white photography, or deeply sensual studies of flowers.  There is a playful fluctuation between object, participant, viewer and voyeur. > Read More