'I think ruins are beautiful. Be it a western ghost town or an overgrown city in the mountains. We pass away and nature starts to swallow what belongs to it. This was one of those places. One day it will be green and quite again.'
When I first featured the imagery of artist and model Warren Russell, he was naked and wielding an axe in a run down old barn. (To The Woodshed) It is one of my passions exploring the relationship between form and surroundings, especially when those surroundings have been long forgotten. There is quiet beauty in seeing the naked male form, breathing and vital, place within a setting basically left for dead. The living breathing human body brings forth an erotic resuscitation to the surroundings, if only for just a moment.
Warren's words above came from an e-mail he wrote me a few weeks after I posted his self shots at the old barn. Warren had driven by the barn and saw that barn, the surrounding houses and woods were all gone. Acres of land had been fenced off and bulldozed. Every sign of what was once there was being buried and covered in preparation for the tightly packed housing community that was soon to be erected. It is sad, but fascinating that we continue to tear down such beauty and replace it with such mediocrity. Technological advancements bring on speed and efficiency, but also tend to be uninspired and distinguish all signs of craftsmanship and character. Even more frightening, is its tendency to wipe away the ability and desire of many to see it.
The qualities that drew me to Warren's images in the barn also have me loving these images of the old mill. Seeing Warren on, beside and within the structures many rooms and machines, his presence almost brings to life the many men and women whose livelihood depended on the Mill, and all that was produced there. I can't help but think of the many friendships that began, relationships that ended, fights, gossip and living that once occurred within. Given the age of the building so many that spent so many hours of their lives there are now at rest no longer needing to wake and head to work at the old Mill.
'The mill is something of a historical landmark in a small mountain town. It's easily missed by by those who speed by to quickly. The place is mostly just forgotten. The mill makes a great location because you have to take a few lesser traveled roads to get there, which means you're unlikely to be interrupted during the shoot.'