At Lights Edge: a desolate views of American landscapes by Kevin Cooley

Lightning shooting through the sky highlights an endangered beauty and at the same time represents a divine or extraterrestrial phenomenon. Desolate views of American landscapes are illuminated by eerie distress signals, possibly messages coming from above or vice-versa”.

Kevin, where do you get your inspiration?

I get inspiration from many places. Lately, I’ve been inspired by the recent La Tuna Canyon wildfire that nearly destroyed my house and studio – essentially everything I own. As, you know, smoke and fire are already a big part of my practice, so it was really interesting when fire became such a reality for me.

What are you much focused in?

Right now, focused on a personal connection to the environment, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how out of control everything seems right now. However, I did photograph the super-blue-blood moon yesterday morning in the burn zone behind my house in LA, and I was reminded that as much as everything seems so crazy and intense right now, the universe is still operating right on time, and will continue to do so long after our drama ceases to be relevant.

More directly speaking, I’m finishing up a solo exhibition that is mostly about fire, that opens in three weeks. I’ve also been thinking about to create the next version of a project called  Ring of Fire – a drawing machine focused on live data from earth’s movements around the Pacific Ring of Fire, using USGS internet data to generate daily drawings in response to earthquakes.

Have you encountered any difficulties when you first started your art/freelance career?

Yes, I have. In some ways things seemed a bit easier when I first started, Maybe I got lucky, maybe it was that youthful ambition. Now, I feel like there is a lot more at stake with each project, each decision I make. Part of that is the political environment in American right now, everything is so intense all the time.

Over these years, what is the most important thing you have learnt from your profession?

That is best to keep the practice going, because I really don’t know what other skills I have at this point, I’ve been doing it for so long.

Do you think that a creative job is just creativity or it’s discipline too?

Creativity is definitely the most important part of what I do, but without any discipline driving my practice it’s hard to manage your expectations.

Are you currently work on new projects?

Yes, I’m working on an exhibition called Still Burning that opens later this month in Los Angeles. It centers on work created before, during, and after the recent La Tuna Canyon Fire which nearly destroyed by my house, my studio, and my entire photographic archive. As both personal catharsis and continuation of an existing exploration of the physical properties of fire and smoke motivated by the 2016 election, this show is my both my most personal, and political, yet. The exhibition consists of photographs, video, and a Twitter-based project which collectively reference political smokescreens, environmental degradation, and regeneration.

“This project was shot on location in the American states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming – one of the most rugged and least populous regions of the country. Specific locations were primarily chosen for their majestic natural and scenic qualities, with an underlying element of historical significance as well. Many of the locations are important places for the local Native American tribes or are situated on, or near, the paths of early western explorers as well as pioneers – all of who once struggled in this rugged landscapes”

Artist Website >

Instagram > @kevincooley_