I met with Morgen Van Vorst through a class conducted by Andrea Modica at Maine Media Workshops + College. She received her BA in Anthropology and English at Mount Holyoke College. Her work has been exhibited in several group shows in New England. She is an MFA candidate in photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, MA.
Approach of the Horizon
Approach of the Horizon is a photographic allegory examining one girl’s coming of age in an uncertain landscape—a place set back from culture, in the shadowy territory of the American woods. Part real, part imagined, it offers entrée into the cosmology of a young person facing an unknowable future. Juxtaposing straight photographs with multiple exposures that suggest an unsettled environment, these pictures yield a visual myth about personal transformation.
I grew up on an island, at the edge of a woody swamp, where the roots of trees sank below the surface into dark pools. Most of my young life was spent lost in a stretch of uninhabitable land. Birds, dogs, and trees were my guides. At dusk, I would cease my explorations and turn back. The latent danger I felt was largely imagined. But at the onset of darkness, I was struck by fear of what I could not see, and I often ran, breathless, out of the woods that in daylight hours harbored me.
Photographing on two isolated East Coast islands, I follow a girl through the landscape as she discovers a natural world that is, at turns, generative, unsettling, and frightening. Approach of the Horizon is a meditation on being alive to nature that is beautiful, eerie, and intractable: a place in which animals are the objects of prayer, trees harbor untold histories, and the laying on of hands might return a wild bird to life.
Applying analogue technique to digital technology, I make double exposures in camera to evoke the searching movements of the eye as it travels through a scene—looking at the ground, the sky, and the blue distance. While the process I use to make these images is deliberate, the outcome is open to chance—images coalesce in the camera in ways I can’t predict. Upending expectations of the rendered landscape as something that remains ‘out there’, I place the viewer in direct conversation with it—to yield an embodied, rather than a distant experience of the land. I explore how these collapsed interpretations of the natural world can serve as outward reflections of emotional states, and speak too to the limits of sight.
To view more of Morgen’s work, please view her website.