Showcasing the Arts


Jan. 2015 Featured Artist: David Zurick


David Zurick in Tibet I am a self-taught photographer and academically-trained geographer. For much of my career, photography served my geographic studies. It provided a visual language to convey ideas that were grounded in the methods of empirical observation. At a certain point, I became more interested in evocation than explanation and moved from science into art. Now my geography serves my photography. It provides a solid understanding of natural conditions and human society, which I commonly use in my visual examination of the cultural landscape. When I became more serious about photography I moved through various cameras, eventually settling on the 4 x 5 format. The large negatives provide me with the image quality I seek, but importantly the business of setting up a big camera and exposing single sheets of film require that I work carefully and slowly — center myself — and enter into the meditative practice of art. There is no "shoot-and-run" in big camera photography.

Where my work involves a human subject, as it often does when I photograph the inhabitants of a landscape, I must enter into a relationship not only with the place but with the person. I try to have them see what I am visualizing when I ask them to be part of a picture. Otherwise, it simply won’t work very well. With good intention, though, I am rewarded with a chance to see anew the world and its humanity. The prize in that is often a nice image. I regularly photograph in arduous condition s— the high altitudes, cold and wind of the Himalayas, for example, or the heat and dust of the Rajasthan desert. The physicality of my work is an important aspect of it. I enjoy the necessary effort to focus and work calmly under intense environmental conditions. I also tend to work in lengthy series rather than discrete images. This allows me to dive deeply into my subject. My recently completed project on the sacred geography of Tibet and the Himalaya, called "Land of Pure Vision," lasted 10 years and transported me to some of the most magical spots on the planet. Sometimes I think my art is just an excuse to visit such places and to examine them very closely. Earlier, I spent a decade off-and-on in the American South making photographs for my "Southern Crossings" project. My current project, "Painted Towns," takes me to the Rajasthan Desert in India and hopefully into another lengthy adventure.

I learned to make photographs by studying countless numbers of good and bad ones. I pore through books of photos, trying to figure out how a good image was made — not so much how-to books but the monographs of masters of photography. This leads me away from formulas and toward a greater intuitive knowledge of technique and equipment. The story behind each of my pictures always involves a geographical angle — light, composition, iconography, space. These elements compose the basic infrastructure of my images. Their alchemy blends an emotional resonance with my own geographical imagination.

David Zurick
Berea, Ky.

Telephone: 859-986-9491


Page last updated: June 8, 2016
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