Mark Klett S24

Exhibition: Change Is a More Accurate Measure of Time Photographs by Mark Klett, SLU class of 1974

- Richard F. Brush Art Gallery

The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Mark Klett’s graduation from St. Lawrence University in 1974. The show features 12 photographs from "El Camino del Diablo", a project based on a journey by a young mining engineer, Raphael Pummely, through Arizona and Mexico in 1861 on “the road of the devil.” Over 150 years later, Mark Klett traversed the same route, making photographs in response to Pumpelly’s words. Unable to trace the engineer’s exact steps, Klett created images that are not literal references to specific places or events. Rather, he sought to produce a more poetic narrative to their shared experience of the Arizona desert, along the common route that connects the two through time.

Above image: Standing Before the Sunrise at Raven Butte, inkjet photograph, 2014

Mark Klett S24
Saguaro with my shadow and yellow light, inkjet photograph, 2019

Artist’s statement
Soon after leaving St. Lawrence I chose to detour from my degree in geology and explore the world of fine art photography. In retrospect, it was presumptuous to assume a successful outcome in a field I had little knowledge of beforehand and had begun as a hobby. Yet my experience at SLU left an optimism that somehow granted permission to risk the unknown.

I couldn’t have predicted what was going to happen, or if anything would happen at all. But over time I learned, and continue to learn, about what it means to live life as an artist, to let the process of discovery lead the way, and to be responsible for making the work public. Ultimately, when I became a college professor, I mentored students navigating a similar path of their own choosing.

It might seem obvious, but it took a long while for me to understand that the training that I received in geology would be essential to my identity as an artist. For example, time is foundational to my interest in both fields. Both geologists and photographers rely on empirical observation, and what one observes and chooses to focus on becomes the basis for interpreting and creating new knowledge. There are many differences between fields, of course, but understanding the language of one makes it possible to enter the world of the other. That ability enabled me to move past the challenges of the unknown and opened the door for transformation. This is the real advantage of the degree I earned so long ago and made the work you see here possible: the capacity to keep learning. – MK

Gallery reception with the artist 

Friday, May 31, at 3:00 p.m.

Mark Klett S24
Ed Abbey Taking Notes in Turkey Pen Ruins, Grand Gulch, Utah, gelatin silver print from Polaroid negative, 1988, gift of the artist, SLU 99.94