At night, walking the streets of Contra Costa, my Northern California neighborhood, I encounter plant life that has been shaped or altered by homeowners or garden contractors to fit the confines of the urban neighborhood. Beyond these attempts to create order and neatness, there is a resilience to keep growing, to outgrow and overtake imposed boundaries; plants and trees, if only momentarily, existing on their own terms.
Drew Waters (b. Australia) is a photographer and writer based in Berkeley, CA and Asheville, NC. He received a BA (Honors) in Cinema and Cultural Studies at La Trobe University and an MFA in Photography from the Hartford Art School. His work explores the built environment, suburban ecology, and the commodified spaces of urban living. His photographs have been exhibited in galleries in the United States and abroad. In 2021 he was awarded the Svensk Bokkonst, Swedish Book Art Award for Shelf Life, a self published photo book. In 2022 he was awarded the Hannes Wanderer Photo Book Prize at Hartford Art School.
There were plenty of applications that showed plant and its power that is relentless and works its way in and around humans’ structures and boundaries imposed. I liked though Drew Waters work very much, the images in my mind are flawless, each so well observed that showed how plant life entangles itself with our lives, how barriers, fences, building and nets can be entangled, shaped or even engulfed by plants. These images made at night felt almost like the plants were caught in the act of growing. Even though in some cases the images are busy and complex, some were decreet and subtle. This gave me a sense of time, rapid but also in slow motion. All captured in a still photograph, with detail, shiny leaves, wood grain, a plastic tarpaulin, a wheeled barbeque, or plants taken over by plants. It’s an exhilarating piece of work, kind of high tempo, but not forced, just really well observed and executed with compositions to me that are spot on even when they are off. If I saw this work on the wall of a museum, I would definitely stop or be stopped by the work to view it. Congratulations Drew, I do not know of your work, but was really happy to see it. Thank you.