Rob Anthony Lee,
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A serious photographer for 30 years, my work unexpectedly took on a ‚Äúbefore and after‚Äù quality when I did a life-changing project. For three years I photographed in a Buddhist AIDS hospice during the height of the epidemic, after a time moving into the hospice as a caretaker. (This work is currently being serialized at www.subtopian.com in my memoir, Collaborating With Angels.) What do you photograph after documenting something as powerful and compelling as a plague? Still, I never stopped snapping away, and perseverance always yields the occasional gem, but it took awhile for the revelations of the hospice experience to find new avenues of expression, although I didn‚Äôt know this was happening.
I‚Äôve been in many shows, mostly solo, consisting mainly of portraits, nudes and landscapes. Then came the fly-on-the-wall documentary style of the hospice, and now large collages, and landscapes meditating on the tenuous relationship between humans and our environment. A long cultivated East Asian/Native American sensibility (I spent six years in a monastic Buddhism setting), slowly internalized by walking in the woods and growing things, has led to a passion for restoration ecology (big time weeding), which, to me, is learning what the landscape wants to be. This turns out to be great fun; an active watching over years. The point being to begin seeing behind the curtain, to where spirit waits. To convey this in a photograph is challenging. The hospice was a wonderful place to get in touch with the possibility of spirit, but upon what tableau can I show it? For the moment I‚Äôve landed on snow and fog.