A passion for our vast landscape is something Daniel Coburn will always carry with him. He begins a new journey as a graduate student this fall at the University of New Mexico. I wish Daniel the best of luck in this new and exciting time in his life. I can’t wait to see how his work evolves!
Daniel Coburn is the last artist to feature for the Convergence Interviews. I hope you have all enjoyed the recent interviews with Jim Brothers and Louis Copt. The Convergence exhibit closes on Friday, Sept. 3rd. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by to see this exhibit, now’s the time!
Trish Nixon: It has become increasingly difficult for one to seek out nature untouched by human hands. Suburban sprawl and strip malls seem to be defining a new kind of landscape. Do you see your work as a type of Kansas documentation?
Daniel Coburn: I don’t consider my work to be documentation. I really don’t believe in the photograph as a true “document.” My photographs are seldom a literal interpretation of a place or event, but are my own artistic interpretation of the scene. My primary goal is to convey a sense of the sublime to my viewer. In this sense my images are more like paintings than they are photographs.
TN: As you enter an exciting, new period in your life as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, how do you think this move will transform your work?
DC: My work is continually transforming. I have a very eclectic set of interests. I will use my time at graduate school to experiment and try new things. Right now I am making figurative work. I am known for my landscape work here in Kansas which is fantastic. I will always love the people and landscape of this state. I will carry its influence everywhere I go. I have the words “Ad Astra Per Aspera” tattooed across my chest. Kansas will always be close to my heart.
TN: I can’t help but think of Christian Boltanski and his piece Monument Odessa when I saw images of your “Physiognomy Experiment.” Was Boltanski at all an influence on this particular work?
DC: Absolutely. However the influence is purely aesthetic. Physiognomy Experiment is much different in concept than the works of Boltanski. This piece was inspired by my own personal experiences with mental illness. I am very interested in creating artwork that becomes an “experience” for the viewer. This installation invites audience participation by allowing visitors control of the lighting elements. I want to get my photographs off-the-wall in the traditional sense. I enjoy using wire and electrical components to create a 3-dimensional drawing. I hope that my future installations will engage all five senses of the people visiting.
TN: Why do you focus on the landscape?
DC: My interest in the landscape was sparked during a time when I was using nature as therapy. I was going through a tough time, and I really found peace by being outdoors. I still hike and explore along the Kansas River regularly. Despite pursuing other photographic interests, I will always photograph the landscape.
Image Credits: top: Daniel Coburn Winter Moonrise, middle: Physiognomy Experiment, bottom: Winter Wheat