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John R. Pepper: Inhabited Deserts

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Deserts have always fascinated photographers.. Often a photographer enters deserts to capture the beauty of the landscape with a setting sun or a beautiful cloud formation and that is the final result. As beautiful as that might be, it was not what I was seeking. I wanted to go further. My concept, my goal, has been to use the desert as a painter uses a virgin white canvas; and while traveling through different deserts of the world (from Russia to Egypt, Mauritania, Oman to the USA etc) I sought to discover what imagery was revealed to my eye – -sometimes it was figurative, sometimes abstract. In the South Sinai in Egypt, there were tall hills of rocks. Climbing those hills, walking through what appeared to be a simple amalgam of stones, I discovered anthropomorphic figures such as faces, fish, elephants, humans etc Suddenly the rocks, these non-living elements were transformed into the opposite: living, expressive, vibrant figures. In the Nevada desert, in the United States, or the vast deserts of Mauritania, I would look across the plains and see what […]

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