About the Photographer
I am interested in revealing the narratives contained within the landscape and am most attracted to places where the land reveals itself as being both an agent of geological processes and a field of human endeavor. – Mark Ruwedel
For over twenty-five years, Mark Ruwedel has photographed sites in the American West where historical and contemporary marks on the land exist as a geographical palimpsest. He enjoys the irony of our celebrating and preserving the scratchings of prehistoric cultures on the land, while we decry the ways in which we alter our environment today. Combining photographs of ancient trails and remnants of 12,000-year-old ceremonial sites with modern tire tracks and roads, Ruwedel questions how different these intrusions really are. His ongoing body of work entitled The Ice Age is photographed along the relic shores of dried glacial melt lakes, including Lake Manly, now Death Valley. Because of the extremely arid climate in the Basin and Range Region, nature's reclamation of both human and natural processes takes thousands of years – nineteenth century rail lines crumble side-by-side with ancient foot paths. Both remnants are evidence of the most advanced technology of the time, yet quite different in their impact on the land. And while the cultural resources expended on a trail and on a railroad are vastly different, they are disappearing at the same rate in this environment.
Born in 1954, Mark Ruwedel studied at Kutztown State College, Pennsylvania, and Concordia University in Montreal, where he later taught photography. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including at the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; and the National Gallery, Canada. His work is held in several permanent collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Library of Congress; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; ad the Princeton University Art Gallery, Trenton, New Jersey. He currently divides his time between Vancouver, British Columbia and Los Angeles, where he teaches photography at the California State University at Long Beach.