||Death Valley: Painted Light
by Stephen Strom, with poems by Alison Hawthorne Deming and an essay by Rebecca A. Senf
Strom's spectacular photographs of Death Valley are a lasting tribute to one of America's crown jewels!
Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America. Located about 150 miles west of Las Vegas near the border of California and Nevada, it straddles an area of about 3,000 square miles. A land of extremes and contrasts, it includes Telescope Peak that towers over the valley at 11,049 feet elevation and an oasis that provides habitat for the endangered Devils Hole Pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis). Designated a national monument in 1933 and expanded into a national park in 1994, its rugged yet otherworldly beautiful landscape now attracts more than 1,000,000 visitors per year.
Attracted by the distinctive topography and light of Death Valley, Stephen Strom, a renowned professor of astrophysics, began traveling regularly there some thirty-five years ago. His acute eye for abstract, almost pointillist compositions not only reveals the patterns and effects of geologic forces over millennia, but also takes in the vast, colorful sweep of land and sky as well as the land's myriad details—volcanic cinder cones and sand dunes, dry lakes and salt pans, colorful badlands and canyons, and pine-studded mountains—that give the area its distinctive and varied character.
Strom's photographs are complemented by Alison Hawthorne Deming's original sequence of twelve poems, written for this book, that are as luminous and detailed as the images themselves. And Rebecca Senf's perceptive essay situates Strom's work within the canon of those photographers who have inspired and mentored him, including Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Keith McElroy, Eliot Porter, Frederic Sommer, and Max Yavno. Death Valley: Painted Light is a book unlike any other about a landscape whose topographic relief and sheer beauty are unforgettable.
"This collection of Stephen Strom's views of Death Valley from 1980 to 2014 combines two distinct types of visual discovery: first, revealing abstract patterns and designs woven into the landscape and, second, isolating the specific outlines of this renowned desert landscape. In bringing these two categories of a photographic image together, Strom celebrates the universal beauty of line, color, and pattern and simultaneously situates it within a distinct landscape...It is the Death Valley that has been seen by many, photographed by some, and presented here in thoughtful revelation by Stephen Strom."
—Rebecca A. Senf, Norton Family Curator of Photography at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and Phoenix Art Museum, from her essay.