Marks in Place
The University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1987
Available on Photo-Eye
The paintings and carvings on rock by prehistoric Indians are the first examples of environmental art in North America. In a survey originally funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, these five photographers not only documented the sites of rock art but explored the form and content of the ancient markings and established a link between themselves and their anonymous predecessors. The heartfelt, almost mystical connections the photographers discovered are evident in the passion of their photographs and the eloquence of each of their essays about the survey project.
From the elegant, straightforward silver prints of Linda Connor and Charles Roitz, to the eerie color prints of Steve Fitch, often made at night by firelight, and the powerful photo/drawings of Rick Dingus, the photographs are individual and personal, yet united by a sense of awe and respect for the subject matter. John Pfahl's photographs of rock art sites that are now buried under water are sad testimony to the fragility of these ancient sacred places.
Polly Schaafsma has written about the archeological significance and background of the rock art, and Keith Davis discusses the attraction the primitive has held for artists from modernism on. The essays together underscore the fact that rock art represents a mostly unfathomable mystery that is endlessly fascinating to scholars and artists in many fields.