(American, b.1952; resides in Arlington Heights, IL)
For over 15 years, Paul Clark has been photographing community gardens in Chicago’s northwest suburbs for his ongoing Gardens series, seeking urban environments that strive to achieve a balance in controlling nature. The organic forms of the plants mixed with the graphic and architectural quality of their man-made support systems emphasize the feeling of energy and movement of the plants that thrive despite their restraints. Focusing on the containment systems within these sanctuaries, Clark creates poetic visual metaphors for our complex relationship with nature tendency to create a ‘natural’ yet controlled, ordered, and productive environment.
Through re-visiting many of the same garden sites, Clark noticed that what was once easily accessible was increasingly becoming fenced or locked to protect against thievery. Evolving out of Gardens, Clark’s series Barriers focuses on these perimeters and enclosures, layering patterned plastic and metal of construction webbing, chain-link fences, and screens to obstruct the view. Seen only through its precautionary containment, the garden becomes engulfed by intersecting geometric shapes and planes of light and dark in the foreground.
Paul Clark has been awarded the Jurors Award at Photo National (2005); Illinois Arts Council Artists Finalist Award (2002, 1999); and the Fellowship Award from the Society for Contemporary Photography (1999); among others. Solo exhibitions include The Architrouve, Chicago (2010); Silver Eye Center for Photography, Pittsburgh (2008); Lutheran Campus Center, Madison (2004); and the Society for Contemporary Photography, Kansas City, MO (2000). He has also exhibited at the Rockford Art Museum, Rockford, IL (2008); the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN (2004); and the Ukranian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago (2001). Clark’s work is included in the permanent collections of Loyola University, Chicago; Deloitte, Chicago; and in the 600 North Lake Shore Drive Condominium Art Collection in Chicago.