November 2012


Little Stony Creek, Watauga Lake, TN, 2011

Artist’s Statement

wild | life:

This photographic body of work loosely explores the topography of a Southeastern broad leaf forest, but as integral as the forest is, the natural setting becomes a backdrop and secondary to the human element, and to how we, the people, live out our lives in and around the public and private landscape of the Cherokee National Forest. This component inevitably provides comments upon recreation, class, and the role of this natural setting within rural Appalachia, an area that has been misunderstood and oppressed for generations.

The underlying questions and concerns generated by the work are paramount in the process of learning about ourselves, and the interaction we have with a landscape that has been set aside as a recreational outlet and as a commodity for the infrastructure of our consumer-based nation. Why do we as humans tend to migrate to natural environments? Why have we blocked off lands for our enjoyment and commodification? Why do we as humans look to the natural world for answers to questions that are as old as the forest itself? Is there something intrinsic in the forest that elicits our undivided attention? Is it beauty? Is there an element of the sublime? These are all questions the photographs contained within wild | life seek to distill into a form that is approachable.

Paying utmost attention to framing, light, space, and metaphor, I create a complex environment where the landscape and cast of characters coalesce and vie for attention within the public and private landscape of the Cherokee National Forest. The forest becomes a stage where human life acts out a poetic form of wild living. Even if this exchange is mediated and flawed, these photographs continually show an interaction between humans and wilderness that is real and felt. It is imperative that we truly understand the importance of this relation, and mend our tattered and egocentric affiliation with the wild.



John Lusk Hathaway was born in 1976 in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his MFA from East Tennessee State University under the direction of Mike Smith in May 2012. He has exhibited internationally, and was recently a winner in a competition held by the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, juried by Alec Soth.

John participated in Review Santa Fe 2012 and is included in the SlowExposures exhibition co-juried by Brett Abbott and Julian Cox. He is a lecturer of photography at King College. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.