Hills Column Series

This series is based on my visual and physical experiences when walking and working in the hills along the Missouri River. Most of my family’s acres are hilly pastureland, bisected by deep draws that pull water from the hills toward the river. There is an old windmill and a collapsing, abandoned farmhouse on the east side.

When I am in the hills, I see the soft forms of the earth, the jagged lines of trees and grasses, and the changing textures and colors during different times of day and seasons. I feel the sensations of the wind and the ground on my feet and face, in my lungs, and in the muscles of my arms and legs. Although I can see across the river into South Dakota, I can also be enclosed in small spaces. I walk to the top of hills, climb down deep draws, follow cow paths, push my way through thick sumac stands, avoid badger holes and cow pies, and occasionally discover the remains of animals.

I created these digital photoconstructions with images I took while walking in the hills. Each column consists of 8 to 12 layers of photos taken in one area of the property during a single period. Using Photoshop, I cut, layer, refine, and move photographs to construct one column. My goal isn’t exact representation of what I see in nature. Instead, I hope to evoke a sense of walking in the hills, with changes in scale and direction of light and new discoveries at every turn. The vertical column is a metaphor for the upright human form, and it is also an echo of Chinese landscape painting. I hope that viewers move imaginatively through the image, stopping on details and continuing on through the interwoven flow of shapes and lines.

© 2021 Pat James