John Hathaway

John Lusk Hathaway was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his MFA from East Tennessee State University in May 2012. John was recently nominated for the 2014 Baum Award and was the recipient of the Individual Artist Fellowship Grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission the same year. He was a finalist in Review Santa Fe and a semi-finalist in the Duke Honickman First Book Prize in 2012. Hathaway is currently photographing the state of South Carolina and southeast at large for The American Guide Project. He is a lecturer of photography at The Art Institute and The College of Charleston, both in Charleston, SC. Today we share work from John’s series One Foot in Eden
and How Red the Rose.

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One Foot in Eden / How Red the Rose

I have worked extensively in the mountains of Tennessee & the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I am interested in the landscapes and the lives the people are carving out for themselves in these rural environs. The land and inhabitants seem very different and distinct on the surface of the pictures, and they are, but what I find interesting is the longer I photograph each region and move past surface description, or the way things look, the more similar they become in terms of their collective aspirations and their interactions with the natural world.

I am equally interested in how nature is a signifier of meaning to people with very different backgrounds and philosophical belief systems. Why do we as humans tend to migrate to natural environments? Why have we blocked off lands for our enjoyment and commodification? Why do we as humans look to the natural world for answers to questions that are as old as the land itself? Is there something intrinsic in these spaces that elicits our undivided attention? Is it beauty? Is there an element of the sublime? I hope the underlying questions generated by the work teach us something about ourselves by distilling these concerns into a visual form that is universally approachable.

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It is my main goal that this work is a springboard for further thought and contemplation on who we are as a people and how we recruit nature to be our comforting shoulder and adumbration of meaning pointing toward something greater than the singular self and the experiences contained within the maddening jumble of post-modern life. By wielding my camera in a deliberate yet subtle manner, paying utmost attention to framing, light, space, and metaphor, I create a complex environment where the landscape and cast of characters coalesce and vie for attention within these southern landscapes. The land becomes a stage where human life is acting out a poetic form of wild living. Even if this exchange is mediated and flawed, these photographs continually show humankind seeking (consciously and unconsciously) a meaningful connection to this land and a place to deposit their angst that is fundamentally accumulated living in the digital age.

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To view more of John’s work please visit his website.