Adventuring into the surreal landscape of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico for many years, Craig Varjabedian became inspired by the region’s luminous, ever-changing dunes of sand to capture the remarkable images in this body of work entitled Into the Great White Sands. The artist skillfully chronicles his immersion into this breathtakingly vast and strikingly intimate world, and reveals the stories of this otherworldly place through emotionally evocative photographs. Varjabedian has suspended in time the many magical moments he experienced while chronicling the unique White Sands landscape.
White Sands National Monument is located in a remote area of the southwestern United States, beneath the San Andres mountain range of southern New Mexico in the arid Tularosa Basin. It is a place of rippling dunes made of pure white gypsum, undulating and ever-changing since archaic times. Silently and slowly transforming the landscape, the rain and snowmelt dissolve the gypsum crystals like sugar. Warming rays from the desert sun then evaporate this liquid solution, producing tons of fine alabaster sand that are swept silently by the whispering winds in a cycle of rebirth and metamorphosis. The snow-white dunes shift imperceptibly—silently receding and emerging in timeless tranquility.
The ‘Sands’ are breathtakingly vast and seemingly barren, yet on a more intimate scale, the landscape reveals an ecology teaming with life, which flourishes throughout the dunes. Plants like the soaptree yucca, whose spring bloom each year is a visual celebration, and the desert verbena that dazzles against the pale sands with vibrant pink. Dunes rolling in waves for miles to the mountainous horizon create a spiritual atmosphere hypnotizing visitors with Zen-like visual purity.
Varjabedian’s photographs reveal snow-white dunes and striking landforms, storms and stillness, panoramic vistas and breathtaking sunsets, intricate windblown patterns in the sand, ancient animal tracks, exquisite desert plants, and also the people who come to experience this place that is at once spectacular yet subtle.
You are invited on a visual expedition to this unique primordial landscape through the lens of master photographer Craig Varjabedian and to experience these images—powerful moments captured forever by the artist of the magnificent, ever-changing White Sands National Monument. His book of photographs, Into the Great White Sands, published by the University of New Mexico Press, has garnered much praise and is the 2018 recipient of a prestigious New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. An exhibition of original photographs from Into the Great White Sandsdebuted at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas and is traveling throughout the United States. The project team is actively seeking museum venues in Europe to present the exhibition.