View from His Lean-To at Heart Lake; Digital Print - Pigment on Paper / Film Photograph; 32" x 40"
Whitney Point, NY
If I’m going to talk about my work I have to talk about what happened to me on a sunny, brisk, early-October morning in the late 1980s. Autumn, under cover of darkness, established itself and made its grand entrance as the sun rose. I stood in Labrador Hollow, a nature preserve south of Syracuse. I looked all around, threw my arms open, tossed my head back, closed my eyes and breathed in. Slowly. I soaked up deep blue sky, bright red and yellow leaves, and that early chill fresh on my skin. I was vaporizing, disappearing into the beauty. This was merger, mutual osmosis. It was never more clear that the universe is in all of us and we are all part of the universe. And by “we” I mean everyone and every thing: every leaf, twig, rock, rabbit. That epiphany, that transcendence, is at the core of my work. I want to know my subject, get under it, go inside and through it. I want to explore its mysteries, learn its secrets. I probably will always photograph what I find beautiful and compelling in the natural world. But these days, it seems as if I also find beauty in the everyday: the light and shadow-enhanced form and texture of window curtains, details of old pipes, water stains, and chipping paint on my home’s boiler room walls or a random still life of my father’s long neglected tools. I explore the beauty of nature. And I study the nature of beauty. Whether I’m indoors or outdoors, whether I’m using a 4x5 View Camera, DSLR or iPhone, a relationship seems to emerge between my subject and me. I absorb its beauty and its beauty absorbs me. I lose myself and find myself again, just like that morning in Labrador Hollow.
About the Artist
JW Johnston is a fine art photographer and teacher following a 20-year-career in broadcast journalism. He quit to pursue his first love, photography. JW studied photography at Syracuse University and Northern Virginia Community College. To teach himself large format film photography, JW hiked and camped alone throughout Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia, photographing the park's waterfalls. To practice the craft and pay the bills, he worked as a photographer's assistant with DC-area photographers. His work was exhibited at the Ralls Collection in Georgetown and the Washington Center for Photography. Shortly after he moved back to his boyhood home in Whitney Point, NewYork, Shenandoah Waterfalls premiered as a solo exhibition in 2004 at Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts in Binghamton, NY. Several solo and group exhibitions followed, including Transcendence: Photographing the Unseen, a major solo show in 2008 at the Orazio Salati Studio and Gallery in Binghamton. Legendary abstract photographer Carl Chiarenza selected JW’s work for the international juried show - Abstract Expressions - at Middlebury, Vermont’s PhotoPlace Gallery in 2012. That same year, Black&White Magazine published a two-page spread of his work. In 2013, WSKG Public Television profiled him on its Artist Cafe program, a segment that has since aired across the country -http://www.wskg.org/show/jw-johnston-photographer. JW’s prints are in a growing number of private, corporate, and institutional collections. JW is an adjunct instructor of photography at SUNY Broome Community College in Binghamton. He also develops and conducts independent workshops. He is a respected judge of many photography competitions.JW lives in Whitney Point with his wife, Sharon Ball. His work can be viewed atwww.jwjohnston.com