January 22, 2021

BOTANICAL Exhibition at Photoplace Gallery

Cholla Cactus, Mojave Desert

Photo by Norm Halm featured in juried exhibition of photography called BOTANICAL at PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury Vermont from January 29 to February 19, 2021

This picture means so much to me. It's emblematic of some of the happiest years of my life. Living in the Mojave Desert inspired a profoundly deep sense of love, gratitude and reverence for Nature that resulted in one of my most productive photography periods. It was the desert itself – the Mojave specifically – giving me life. Distinct from the Great Basin Desert to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south, it is at once welcoming, hostile or both, but only in reciprocity to the level of respect, or lack thereof, that we hold as we tread on its land. Don't get it twisted, the Mojave is a living system: not empty, not a barren wasteland, not a dumping ground or a throw away backdrop for influencers or music videos. It is a nonhuman personhood in its own right and deserves to thrive and be in peace, regardless of what we can or can't extract from it. #MojaveDesertLove

Cover Photo by Deb Ehrens

Juror's Statement: What a wonderful experience this was—spending time surrounded by beautiful, creative, expressive and often surprising photographs of the plants that fill your world and the unique ways in which you see them, connect with them and share them with others.

And what a challenging experience it was. With a large number of entries, first impressions were important, but the selected photographs had staying power, as well. They not only captured my gaze and sense of curiosity, but kept me coming back. One of the greatest challenges in photographing plants and flowers is getting beyond the beauty of the subject to create a photograph that is powerful in its own right. And yet, mastery of composition, form, lighting and exposure isn’t enough either. I sought images that had that something extra—that expressed a mood, captured a moment in time, told a story or showcased the unique character of a plant. Some are elegant, others are joyful, many are tender. Some are powerful in their simplicity; others proved their ability to wrangle nature’s chaos into an organized composition. Some are very quiet; others are an explosion of color. They run the gamut from romantic to scientific to artistic to cultural. The sheer diversity drove much of my decision making when it came to selecting images for the two galleries.

In choosing award winners, I returned to the call for entry. The photographs had to put the plants first—to capture their spirit or unique characteristics; to show how they help create a sense of place; or to embody the deep, emotional connections we have with them.

Thank you to all for sharing your work, your world, our world. There is so much to be said for slowing down and taking a closer look at the beauty around us.

— Lee Anne White

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