©Jamey Stillings

Natural Persuasion: Jamey Stillings + Greer Muldowney



Opening Reception: Friday, November 2, 6-9 pm (Free)
with Remarks by Jamey Stillings and Greer Muldowney

Colorado Photographic Arts Center (1070 Bannock St, Denver 80204)

About the Exhibition

How can photography change our awareness of a complex global issue like renewable energy development? Jamey Stillings and Greer Muldowney search for answers in Natural Persuasion, an exhibition opening October 19 at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center.

In his series The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar, Stillings documents the construction of a massive solar power plant in California’s Mojave desert over four years. The plant uses 347,000 mirrors – each the size of a garage door – to power nearly 140,000 homes. Photographing from a helicopter, Stillings creates striking monochromatic images that capture the vastness of the project as it transforms the desert landscape.

Thousands of miles away, Muldowney photographs the growing presence of wind turbines in coastal New England. Unlike the vast wind farms of Eastern Colorado and other parts of the West, turbines are often isolated and placed in densely populated areas near residential neighborhoods, schools, and shopping centers. In her series Urban Turbines, photographed from 2012 – 2016, Muldowney “depicts cliché images of the built landscape and architecture of this region with these new, abrupt structures.”

“Through their images, Jamey and Greer are adding valuable perspectives to a global dialogue about a complicated, controversial topic,” said CPAC Executive Director Samantha Johnston. “No matter where you stand on the issue of renewable energy development, Natural Persuasion underscores that photography has an important role to play in the conversation.”

Artists’ Statements

The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar by Jamey Stillings

Located in the Mojave Desert of California along the Nevada border is one of the world’s largest solar thermal power plants, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (Ivanpah). Ivanpah consists of three solar thermal power plants spread across fourteen square kilometers of desert. Completed in late-2013, the station uses 347,000 mirrors to reflect the sun’s thermal energy to boilers atop three towers, producing steam that drives its turbines. The plant generates more than 390 megawatts of energy at peak production—enough to power about 140,000 homes.

In The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar, Stillings documents the construction of the massive power facility over the course of nearly four years. Beginning in October 2010, Stillings photographed the bare landscape upon which the Ivanpah project would soon break ground. Returning to the site approximately every three months, Stillings studied the project’s development from a chartered helicopter, making abstracted photographs that capture the vast scale of the site as it transforms the desert landscape. Flying mostly during the long-shadow hours of first and last light, the artist produced striking monochromatic images that capture the importance of the project unfolding below, creating images that track the evolution of the Ivanpah project while simultaneously highlighting the larger need to move towards renewable energy production.

Renewable energy projects like Ivanpah often raise challenging questions about land and resource use, exposing different perspectives and contradictions within the environmental movement, local communities, the energy industry, and general public. Though Ivanpah is located in the American West, the issues encountered during its planning, construction and operation are global issues and relevant to future environmentally responsible energy projects.

Growing out of his Ivanpah project, Changing Perspectives: Renewable Energy and the Shifting Human Landscape is Stillings’ ongoing documentary project examining global renewable energy development. His most recent bodies of work were photographed over Chile and Japan.

Urban Turbines by Greer Muldowney (2012-2016)

For the past several years I have been photographing the emergence of wind turbines throughout the New England landscape. The resulting series of photographs, titled Urban Turbines, depict cliché images of the built landscape and architecture of this region with these new, abrupt structures. From public schools integrating turbines into their campuses and their science curriculum to coal burning energy plants erecting a structure from the most visible point on their property, turbines have become a complex new symbol of a progressive future.

The New England region of the United States is historically progressive, energy poor and densely populated along its coast. It has recently experienced a building boom in green energy, specifically turbines placed very close to inhabited areas. The policies that surround this boom are fortified in tax breaks and federal and state grant incentives. This is bolstering public works to upgrade infrastructure and create educational facilities in green energy, but also encouraging developers to capitalize on the financial opportunities. These incentives are taking priority over land use concerns and urban planning.

Ultimately, the turbine industry that has popped up in New England is not entirely based on the traditional model of sustainable wind farms found in the West, but instead individual and small clusters of turbines cropping up where opportunity of market, as well as good PR occur – opportunities that may pay off more in tax incentives to developers than useable energy in the grid. Urban Turbines illustrates how these structures have encroached on the landscape of coastal New England.

About the Artists

JAMEY STILLINGS (jameystillings.com)

Jamey Stillings is a New Mexico-based photographic artist. He earned a BA in art from Willamette University and an MFA in photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. His work has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Newsweek Japan and TIME. Stillings has exhibited internationally at venues including the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona; the Mt. Rokko International Photo Festival in Kobe, Japan; the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt in Germany, and the Pingyao International Photo Festival in Pingyao, China. His work is held in the permanent collections of the United States Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, among others. Steidl published Stillings’ monograph, The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar, in 2015.

GREER MULDOWNEY (greermuldowney.com)

Greer Muldowney is an artist, photography professor, and independent curator based in Boston, Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Studio Art from Clark University, and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She acted as the Curator for the Desotorow Gallery in Savannah, GA and was the Regional Coordinator for the Flash Forward Festival on behalf of the Magenta Foundation. Muldowney also served as a member of the Board for the Griffin Museum of Photography, and currently teaches at Boston College, Boston University and Lesley University College of Art and Design.

Her work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of the 2013 Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and a PDN 30 Photographer to watch for 2014.

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