Alumnus Blaine Campbell Explores Human-nature Interactions

Posted on March 07, 2017 | Emily Carr in the Press

A Spruce Grove photographer’s depiction of changing landscapes is being showcased at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton.

Spruce Grove Examiner/Stony Plains Reporter
Marcia Love, March 2, 2017

Blaine Campbell’s work will be featured as a new exhibit, Cyclorama, from March 11 to May 28.

With two large-format images in the installment, Campbell delves into the transformation of the landscape during suburban development.

One panoramic image shows a hill of soil, while the other shows the newly developed subdivision behind it. Campbell took the photographs at a new subdivision being built near Highway 16 and Century Road in Spruce Grove.

“I find it fascinating when you have a new division going in, you scrape off all the topsoil… and then make these very well-formed hills out of it,” he said. “It’s almost like a land sculpture… and then they sell it off and it disappears.”

Since he originally captured the images, the dirt hill has been removed.

Campbell’s interest in landscape photography began as a hobby and eventually took flight when he entered art school.

His interest in the unique prairie landscape developed further after he spent six months in the Netherlands on an academic exchange.

“That kind of resonated with having grown up in the Prairies and thinking about the Canadian landscape,” Campbell explained. “We kind of idealize nature landscape as sort of untouched here, but it is subject to a lot of manipulation itself.”

Through his images, the photographer hopes to open people’s eyes to the relationship between humans and nature.

“My interest is getting people to think more about landscape and how we use it and our place within it… and just what their surroundings are,” he said.

Campbell used an 8x10 film camera to obtain the large images in fine detail, which allowed him to produce the very large prints used in the exhibition.

He works in photography, sculpture and video. He is a graduate of Emily Carr University with a bachelor of fine arts in photography and previously completed bachelor of math and master of science degrees in mathematics at the University of Waterloo and University of Calgary respectively.

In 2007, Campbell received the national award in the Bank of Montreal 1st Art! Invitational juried competition and the Emerging Artist Award from the Contemporary Arts Society.

During the opening of the exhibit at the Art Gallery of Alberta, there will be an Artist in Conversation session with Campbell and exhibition curator Kristy Trinier on March 10 at 6:30-7:30pm.

He will then lead guests through the exhibition space, where they will see how the piece mixes photography with structural forms.

“It’s not just two big photographs,” Campbell explained. “They’re actually printed on fabric, and I’m just finishing building the support structure — which is also an important aspect to the piece.”

About Blaine Campbell: