Out on a Limb is an ongoing series conceived during a dream in 1997.  The first image was taken some hours later in Brookfield, Massachusetts in the top of a maple tree sixty feet above the ground.  This print  (Grass of Leaves) was first displayed months later at Clark University and was immediately collected by the Worcester Art Museum and displayed in their Recent Acquisitions show in 1998.  In 2001, the Fitchburg Art Museum displayed the entire series in a solo show and retained the print Paxton for their collection.

The work represents a turning point within my photography, and I have never looked back.  It is the first body of work that accomplished a clear passionate vision.  Escaping the innocence and meandering of my early work, these photographs represented a new connection with life symbolized through one of nature’s most iconic structures: the Tree.

Every photograph represents a bond with each specific tree; carefully conceived and executed. Time in each tree is an intense balancing act, accompanied by a feeling of driving without hands for minutes at a time.  Simple tasks take minutes rather than moments. These photographs are a combination of the freedom of movement and dreams mingling in the abstract.

Crowley’s tree top pictures are created at personal risk and appropriately makes up a series entitled Out on a Limb.  Crowley hoists his view camera and tripod to the upper branches of New England trees to produce downward, abstract pictures whose visual components consist of limbs, foliage, and the ground beneath.  His Out on a Limb pictures reflect the spirit of the Bauhaus artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (who set the standard for bird’s eye view photography in the 1920’s).  Differing from Moholy, Crowley establishes intimate spatial relationships by working within the trees to give his imagery a unique perspective.  Crowley draws upon visual elements to enhance his abstract photographs.  In Grass of Leaves, he uses sinuous limbs to lead the viewer into his picture and utilizes flat ground cover to stabilize his composition.

Crowley, a Worcester native, is a graduate of Rollins College in Florida.  He acquired his first camera at twelve to take pictures of trains.  He has exhibited in one-man shows at the Wawrzonek Gallery (1995 Worcester MA), Clark University (1998 Worcester MA), The Case Gallery (2002 Portsmouth NH) and the Burlingame Gallery with Eliot Porter (2007 Exeter NH).

This exhibition reveals artistic transitions he has made from the beginning of his career to the present.  Brian Crowley believes that an artist needs “to go out on a limb” in order to explore new possibilities.  He holds this belief after devoting himself to photography over the past decade.

Stephen B. Jareckie
Curator of the Exhibition
Fitchburg Art Museum


©2008 Brian Crowley
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