Artist Statement


John Gallagher

Chapel Hill, NC



In 2013, I set aside my more conventional, camera-based approach to photography. I was searching for fresh inspiration, freedom from my too-familiar photographic perspectives, and new means of exploration. Gradually, this experiment became my primary focus. For the immediate future, I consider myself a photographic artist who very rarely employs a conventional camera.


My work explores psychological themes of alienation, man-in-nature, spirituality, wonder, fear, and uncertainty. The porous borders separating photography, painting, and printmaking constitute a strong secondary theme. I enjoy moving back and forth across these borders and creating images that are somewhat difficult to classify.


True to the experimental approach and the blurring of techniques, the resulting works were created with a variety of techniques and tools. Some began as high-resolution scanner images. Others began as medical x-rays. Some started out as documentary aerial photographs. A few were developed as digital paintings on a blank canvas. Still others were created with composite image tools. I sometimes refer to my techniques as digital alchemy, or digital mischief. As time goes on, I am finding it harder to label my work strictly as “photography”. For me, that is an encouraging result.


I am surprised by the paths this work has taken. The motivation was to “prime the pump” and allow the images to develop without significant preconception. Artists sometimes talk about their work as if it preexisted and they were able to reveal it through their process. As I spend more and more time working in this way, that point of view is ringing true.