Growing up in rural Maine, Caleb Charland spent much of his childhood helping his father remodel their family home. These experiences instilled an awareness of the potential for the creative use of materials, and the ability to fabricate his visions. Charland earned a BFA in photography with departmental honors from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2004, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as a Trustees Fellow in 2010, and was a participant at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2009. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in several major collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Progressive Collection, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Charland currently lives and works in Maine.
Back to Light
The English scientist Michael Faraday, whose experiments with electricity and magnetism allowed for the practical use of theses forces in the modern world, once said “All this is a dream. Still examine it by a few experiments. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature; and in such things as these experiment is the best test of such consistency.” To understand the world and to profit from it one must interact with it, one must experiment. My practice as an artist combines a scientific curiosity with a constructive approach to making pictures. I utilize everyday objects and fundamental forces to illustrate experiences of wonder. For me, wonder is a state of mind somewhere between knowledge and uncertainty. An energy vibrates in that space between our perceptions of the world and the potential the mind senses for our interventions within the world.
My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources.
Since all this is a dream my hope is that these photographs function as micro utopias by suggesting and illustrating the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.