I do photo shoots whenever something captures my imagination as an artist and anthropologist. I usually have an idea of what I want to explore visually and ethnographically before I begin with the camera. At the same time, I stay open to whatever or whoever happens to show up.
Photography is a catalyst for me to experiment with paintings and to guide research. The subjects I gravitate toward are inanimate objects that tell stories of people and places. I was enamored with the piles of peeling & broken-down signs of the Neon Bone yard in Las Vegas for years as I drove by it repeatedly to the Children’s Museum with my small kids & Nana. One day, I finally left everyone behind to take a scheduled tour. I instantly sensed a living urban landscape with stories and a soul.
Months later, after many hours of looking at my tour photos & reading about the histories of the neon signs, I returned to the Bone yard for a 1-hour private photo shoot. With such little time, I knew I had to be clear in my vision of capturing the spirits of the dilapidated neon signs. I did this by looking at the signs in three ways: as a living urban landscape, as individual portraits, and as intimate physical bodies.
The Las Vegas Neon Bone yard is now a well-known, well-managed, manicured museum for all to enjoy. I am grateful that the Neon Bone yard continues to reclaim & restore the iconic signs of the past. But I will never forget the elation of walking alone on the unmarked paths & on pieces of broken glass of a place that was simply a bone yard.