A Love of American Landscape

When I was a child I lived in com­mun­ist Poland. I knew America — which is how we usu­ally referred to USA at the time — as that land where everything was pos­sible, people were free, and the land­scape was filled with mira­cu­lous shapes and vis­tas. Later, when I read the books and when I browsed National Geographics at the lib­rary of the US Consulate in Kraków, I felt I was right, and I aspired to see it with my own eyes, some day. When I was fif­teen, I saw the Challenger dis­aster on TV, and I was shocked by it. I hung a poster of its crew, which I have also man­aged to get from the Consulate, over my desk, to remind me of the hopes and the dreams that some people were pre­pared to ful­fil by going to such extremes. That inspir­a­tion imbued me with a hope­ful feel­ing towards that land and its people, that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Even now, with ques­tion­able polit­ic­al moves, and dubi­ous judge­ments in inter­na­tion­al affairs of the US some­times sad­den­ing my pre­vi­ously ideal­ist­ic per­cep­tions, I believe that there is some­thing power­ful and unique in that land that has the energy to keep inspir­ing people to reach for their stars. That is pre­cisely how I feel about the land­scape of the American deserts and its moun­tains. Often, when I stand on a pre­cip­ice of a canyon, as I cast my eye to that seem­ingly nev­er-end­ing hori­zon, I feel hope and inspir­a­tion in a moment of a per­fect clar­ity. In that instant, it becomes easy for me to see how daily troubles we face are not always so import­ant in com­par­is­on to the joy brought by the amaz­ing beauty and the per­fec­tion of what sur­rounds us, and what con­nects us to everything else on this plan­et.

That is what I pho­to­graph. My pic­tures are not sad or sen­ti­ment­al, they do not show pain, tragedy, or suf­fer­ing — not because that would be a bad pho­to­graph­ic sub­ject: just look at the won­der­ful works of Robert Capa. I am inspired by the ideal­ism of the land and of its poten­tial, and I feel a need to cap­ture, to express, and to share it. Sometimes, it is a bit more pictori­al, like in the pho­to­graph of the Grand Canyon moments after a sum­mer storm has passed, oth­er­wise, it is in the abstrac­tions, like those of Canyon X, cre­ated entirely by nature yet worthy of a most accom­plished sculptor. I won­der if the strength of my feel­ings for that land­scape might pre­vent me from feel­ing the same ela­tion any­where else. Am I destined to pho­to­graph no oth­er place? Not a bad des­tiny, on the oth­er hand…

Perhaps, you could see not just the inner beauty, but also the hope, maybe some child-like naiv­eté, and the hum­bling hon­esty in the American land­scape, which I tried to share with you. May it, too, uplift your soul.

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