The Vern Series
In 1996, my partner, Diane Young, and I loaded up my art van and headed out
on a two-week trip through one of the most geologically active regions in
the world, the US Northwest. Our plan was to just hit the road and spray
paint the art van along the way. Though I possessed professional camera
equipment, I chose to take along a standard consumer point-and-shoot camera.
Before arriving at Dinosaur National Monument, we took a driving break near
an impressively tall power-line tower out in the middle of nowhere. At that
point, I thought I would have Diane take a typical tourist picture of me
under the tower. I staged myself directly under the tower and spread my arms
out shoulder high. That stop and that shot ushered in a decade-plus long
photo essay I call "The Vern Series".
I decided that for the rest of the trip I would have a similar photo taken
of me with the point-and-shoot at any unusual locations or sites. While at
Dinosaur, I took to donning the same ball cap, dark glasses and plaid jacket
whenever we would take one of these photos. The disguise created a new
traveling companion whom I named Vern after our visit to Vernal, Utah.
Throughout our various travels, we make a point of taking along Vern's
outfit so that he would be ready to hop out of the bag at the first sign of
an appropriate 'Vern shot'. He became adept at sniffing out great photos and
began taking artistic license with composition and context. The earlier Vern
photos were intentionally taken using consumer grade color photo film and
processed as 4" x 6" photos at the local drugstore as any average tourist
would have done. As Vern's travels became international and more focused, I
switched to color slide film. And with the advent of digital photography,
the Vern Series expanded into a new realm of imagery.