Will Roger’s sunset photographic series are contemporary observations of an enduring natural majesty, the great desert display of earth’s splendor and power in daily sunsets. Backlit by brilliant reds, oranges, deep blues and greys illuminated by pure nocturnal overtones, Will’s scenes are taken at the artist’s residence El Casa Rancho in Nevada among the Black Rock Mountains. The artist has a way of capturing momentary color, light and the legendary vast panorama only seen in the American west. In fact, Will’s practice can be seen as imaginative contemporary view of nature. This builds in turn on the long history of artistic rendering of the desert. The work functions as interludes of admiration, contemplation and acquiesce at nature’s remarkable potency, particularly the desert’s unyielding yet captivating beauty.
Will’s photographs reveal a certain affection and cautious admiration for the arid landscape and environs, as well as a reverence for the spiritual symbolism of this place, a continuation of the heroic tradition of Romantic landscape painting, wherein the sublime and an affinity for the considerable grandeur of American landscape come together in a display of poetics. As well, the paintings of Thomas Moran and Georgia O’Keeffe and modern photography like Timothy O’Sullivan and Ansel Adamsenter this dialogue of depicting the magic of the desert. One style cannot be unrelated to another if only to express continuity of the importance of this American landscape. Nevertheless, not one to adhere to one style of artistic observation of the west, Will plays with both the panoramic view of western landscape in his images of sky and as well with fragments of scenes such as the images of the artist’s beautiful constructed labyrinth. The photos of this meditative sculptural formation at sunset suggest a moment of artistic or human intervention, a trace of pattern in an expansive geography of mountains and sand. In these moments, one sees the enduring tradition of nature as sacral place, a mediation of contemplation, study and self-examination in the face of earth’s eternal presence and as such a connection to the common experience of humankind.
In this series of astonishing aerial photographs of the desert and its various majestic natural wonders, from expanses of sand to mountaintops illuminated by the bluest of skies, Will captures a moment of wonder, the cities like calligraphic sketching, forming semi circles, and reminding one of all typography letters spread out like a Zen garden. Sill other photos fluctuate between otherworldly moments of fog, sfumato and clarity, a dance of beauty across the landscape. The desert is a place that when you stand in the middle seems that it has no beginning or end. Still other views seem fogged by sunlight, a sort of veiling. These misty pictures have a quiet magnetism, pushing and pulling the viewer through the clouds allowing one to feel as if in flight. The aerial view is a unique perspective. We are able to see the great land’s edges, furrows, and peaks. At once, the viewer is above this monumental place, the Nevada desert but is also made aware of this place’s formidable power, and awe-inspiring allure. Perhaps for a moment, we can be reminded of the rather foolhardy impulse of American settlers to conquer this vast and dry space, its power of erasure and remaking, deadly and magical. For his part, Will has long been committed to conservation efforts for the preservation of the Black Rock Desert, and is Vice President of Friends of Black Rock/ High Rock.
The 2016 aerial photograph is featured in the touring exhibition, Home Means Nevada, and is sponsored by the National Parks Conseration Association.
Aerials BRC 2015
In Will Roger's vibrantly painterly series, each bloom is set against a black background. This dramatic and intimate group of photos offers a richly sumptuous view of natural succulence, the lens focusing on the inner places of the plant, the stamen, rounded curves of tropical petals, and a fecund explosion of color. The pageantry of beauty has a choreographed feel, captured in movement and light. The way of working is an admixture of the ripe desert flowers of Georgia O’Keefe, the majestic work of Ansel Adams and the enticing studies of Robert Maplethorpe.
Will Roger’s early black and white underwater photographs of the sea show a secret life of creatures, intricate coral formations, lit from above, each scene quietly moving with the water. This group of works highlights Peterson’s way with negative space and focus, allowing oceanic movement to define subject matter, pattern, and rhythm. Looking into this underwater world, one almost hears the echo sound of the musical sea.
For centuries, the artistry of dance has had a hold over men and women alike. Skill, ornamentation, a beguiling trickery of moves all function to charm the audience. Will Roger’s motion photographs capture the essence of subject. The artist skillfully merges dance with the mystery of the nineteenth century Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic studies of movement. Using modes often associated with surrealist photography, Peterson inverts proportion, space, and perspective creating an enthralling sense of discovery. Using motion effect including one-second exposure, strobe, and spotlights on the moving subjects, he creates a dialogue about codified definitions of anima and animus. His spellbinding photographs emerge as a convergence between the two, suggestively fluctuating between a sense of the mystic and the artistic.
The concept of anima and animus suggest that both men and women are in fact psychologically androgynous, containing aspects of both the feminine and masculine character. The role of the anima as imaginative and seductive feminine side of as it exists in the male unconscious. Conversely, the animus is understood as the willful and visionary masculine force, residing in the female unconscious. These perceptions are informed by an unconscious idea of female and male archetypes that are captured through Peterson's lens.
Will’s photos function as a metaphor for scientific and imaginary tradition of the analytic excavation of the human spirit. The artist’s relationship with Crimson Rose, his muse, is often cited as an important catalyst for both personal and artistic transformation.