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If there is such a thing as a second chance at childhood, the birth of a baby is perhaps the most hopeful opportunity to re-write your own history. Photographer Jesse Burke documents his sense of rediscovery through a captivating journey with his daughter in Wild & Precious, a solo show and accompanying monograph, on view at Gallery Kayafas in Boston’s SoWa gallery district through February 25th, 2017.
Burke’s photographs are simultaneously an ode to childhood and mother nature, a visual celebration of our physical and psychological intertwinings with the environment. Created during a series of road trips with his young daughter Clover from 2010 to 2015, with the aim of nurturing her close and unafraid connection with flora and fauna, Burke grasps the arc of wonder through expansive vistas, gritty minutia and guileless gestures.
In a smartly integrated exhibition, Burke starts and ends with photographs of Clover sleeping in a hotel bed, first in 2012 and lastly in 2015, underscoring her growth in a wisp of time. The intervening years are hung like a footpath, winding around the walls with variation in viewpoint and perspective, vibrant colors peppered with the occasional B&W image and an intriguing cluster of their collected specimens anchoring the middle of the gallery. New and special to this Boston exhibit, one wall displays collaborative pieces by father and daughter. A mellifluous immersion into their journey, these photographs are a sensitive exploration of childhood unfolding.
Burke’s strong graphics and eloquent compositions capture the awe of being small in a big world. From sweeping panoramas punctuated by Clover’s diminutive figure to close-up, textural investigations of hand-held insects and birds, Burke lets us smell the earth. The mountaintop highs are unsentimentally interposed with broken bones and bloody noses. I think Burke’s emotional tenor peaks in the images of Clover’s daily rhythms of activity and repose: climbing rocks, cuddling a baby raccoon, sleeping. Neither overly nostalgic nor gratuitously disturbing, Burke’s imagery strikes that difficult, delicate balance between a sense of fitting in and standing apart – the bittersweet essence of life.
For more information on this exhibit, go to: http://www.gallerykayafas.com/
To view or purchase Jesse Burke’s “Wild & Precious” monograph go to: https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Precious-Karen-Irvine/dp/1942084110/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487180156&sr=1-1&keywords=Wild+and+Precious+by+Jesse+Burke
Feature Image: “Look Unto the East, 2012” (detail) by Jesse Burke (courtesy of the artist, Gallery Kayafas, Boston and ClampArt, NYC).