by Tamarra Kaida, 1996
Ever since Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, humankind has been roaming the earth in search of a “somewhere else“ or “anderswo“. Encoded within the search for “another place” is the quest for identity, “who else can I be if I live somewhere else? What else can I know, feel, see, become if the land around me changes?“ These ae the unspoken wishes of travelers and seekers.
What is it about particular landscapes, especially strongly defined ones like deserts, which calls to somehting deep within us? What is it about special environments that combine with extremes of weather conditions to produce unique charactertistics in its inuhabitants? The whole world knows about cowboys and the American West. The myth grew up out of the land and then transformed the landscape itself so that it speaks to us in mythic terms.
Andrew Phelps seeks answers to identity and the meaning of “place” through his photographic art work. His photographs ask questions , raise mysteries, remind us of our unfinished quests. As a young artist in search of identity in a complex and multi-layered post-modern world, Andrew understands that the old frameworks which worked for his parents and grandparents will not work for him.. The “somewhere else” that Andrew photographs in the work entitled MAPS AND LEGENDS is a place he once though of as home.
Andrew Phelps’ vision has never been hemmed in. He knows how to see far when looking at the ordinary. Cowboys were real for him, they were his grandfather, his father and their friends. They embodied the clichèd but honorable qualities of honesty, hard-work and ingenuity . The Marlboro man was his grandfather, not a billboard along a highway. Witness Andrew’s photographs, they are oddly “everywhere and somewhere-else”. The mysterious qualities that one feels in Andrew’s work is an intuitive knowledge earned in a barren environment. These mysteries pull us forward.