Reis Birdwhistell – Artist Statement & Story
My father and my wife both had cancer. My father died in 1999 of prostate cancer, which metastasized to the bone. I never heard him complain, but I know he was in pain and very tired. It was so sad to see him waste away. The end came with one of his sons by his side and very peaceful. I wish I was that son.
My wife of 40 years, Rebecca is a survivor. She has had two occurrences of cancer, lost about two thirds of one lung the first time and went for what seemed like a year of radiation the second occurrence. I felt so helpless watching her in the hospital, lying there with the tubes and wires keeping her alive. Knowing that she would have tough time breathing from that time forward, I wished I could breathe for her. The radiation was longer, it seemed to last forever, and was very painful towards the end of her treatment. I tried to help as much as I could, but I still felt so impotent.
The images that I make are my escape. I go up to the mountains of north Georgia to walk the streams searching for things in the waters. They come from my mind, making me feel like I can do something,
My work reflects my love of the outdoors, the play of light on water and movement in water over time.
Most of these works are taken with a 5x7 pinhole camera, on b/w film. I then scan the negative and produce prints on watercolor paper. This gives the print a dark rich tonal quality on a flat paper. My average exposure is about 2 minutes, sometimes run as long as one hour. You then see the movement over time, making it somewhat abstract in nature. I take some of the images because I see some form, like “ Waterbug on Overflow” in nature. Please let me know what you see in the images. I am trying to see different things in all my prints.