Artist Biographies

Artist Biographies : Burkholder, Dan :

Dan Burkholder’s Artist Statement for Shadows of Lives and Loss: Decaying Memories along the Gulf Coast

Seeing New Orleans’ destruction in person was very different from watching it on TV at home. Mile after mile of neighborhoods were devastated. My first goal in making these photographs was to personalize the destruction and loss — to give the images a “you are here” feeling that was intimate and personal for the viewer. Every place I photographed had been under at least ten feet of water for more than a week. The way building materials, fabrics and personal items were affected by this soaking in filthy salt water was like nothing I’d seen before. It was like 300 years of aging had taken place in the ten months since the storm.

On my first visit to New Orleans I had formal consent to visit homes that had been flooded. I quickly discovered that permission was hardly needed. “No trespassing” signs were few and doors were wide open. Authorities who saw us with our cameras never questioned my presence.

The camera never ventures outdoors; these "portraits without people" graphically illustrate the interiors where the citizens of New Orleans lived, worked, learned and worshipped. There is nothing “pretty” about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Certainly not the lives it claimed, the city it changed forever, or the property that was lost. If you feel a tinge of guilt at being drawn to the “beauty” of these images, that’s perfectly normal. You can be drawn into the scene by the natural design and intrigue, only to be finally confronted by the destruction and loss. This is my goal, to give you, the viewer, a way to better understand how nature and governmental failures conspired to create the loss these photographs portray. With this awareness, each of us should hear the call to help New Orleans on her return, not only as the lively, romantic “Crescent City” as known by the revelers of the French Quarter, but as the true home for generations of Louisiana families rich in history and character.



Dan Burkholder places a strong emphasis on design and technique. His portfolio of platinum/palladium prints embraces work in the areas of pictorial, and figure photography. His photographs have been exhibited and published internationally and are included in private and museum collections throughout the US.

Dan photographs with a 35mm camera because of its spontaneity, wide lens selection, and because it has the most buttons to push! He prints exclusively in black and white, making enlarged negatives for prints that begin as small camera images. For his platinum/palladium prints, Dan hand-coats a premium quality 100% cotton rag paper, adding small amounts of gold, lead, and mercury to fine tune the image contrast and color.

His most recent work combines digital imaging with the platinum printing process. "My primary concern is with the discovery of beauty-recording it, and controlling its elements of form and tonality using both traditional and digital photographic techniques. I try to exploit photography\'s ability to "fossilize light" as no other medium can, and find the qualities of the platinum print particularly suited to my vision of reality, whether literal or romanticized."

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