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DIMA Emerging Artist Awards: Jeremy Underwood – Best Overall Series

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DIMA Emerging Artist Awards: Jeremy Underwood – Best Overall Series

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Presented by Duggal Visual Solutions founder Baldev Duggal at the PDN Photo Annual, the 2014 Duggal Image Maker Award recognizes three outstanding individuals whose work resonates with the photo community visually, emotionally and intellectually.

Jeremy Underwood received the award for Best Overall Series. Check out his winning images below, along with a brief interview. Congratulations, Jeremy!

D: Describe your creative process

JU: Like most things in my life, it begins with curiosity.  I stumble across something I find peculiar, something I don’t fully understand, or something that appalls me.  Then begins the research phase.  What is it?  How does it function?  Why does it exist in this manner?  What is its history?  There is so much in life that is easy to disregard and just accept as a matter of fact. However, I am driven by this unyielding curiosity to figure things out and discover new connections in the world. 

D: When/how did you get into photography?

JU: It began quite simply as a photography course in high school…but it was the allure of the outdoors that maintained that passion.  As a young boy growing up in the Midwest, I was always outdoors fishing, swimming, hiking, and playing with creatures.  I guess it was the ability to go into the landscape, capture it, keep a piece of it while simultaneously leaving it behind untouched that interested me. 

D: Who/what influenced your work?

JU: Perhaps my influence and views of the land are conflated with boyhood notions and adult sensibilities. I photograph the land for self-seeking reasons.  I hope to discover new landscapes, save a piece of it, protect it in a place in time.  As a boy, I felt I knew the landscape.  I lived in it, played with it and explored it intimately.  It is where I discovered a fascination for the natural world, filled with magic, mystery and chaos.  Today, my relationship to the landscape is much more complex and uncertain. This uncertainty is where I focus the attention of my work, questioning the ideals of the landscape, searching out its wonderment and banality, and negotiating my own relationship to the land. 

D: What inspired your winning series?

JU: While exploring local waterways, I had stumbled upon a beach that was devastated with trash and debris.  After years of neglect, this beautiful open space had become a dumping ground for litter. Garbage littered the shoreline, a pungent smell filled the air and signs about the polluted waters stood in confirmation of its degraded state.  Hidden from view, I believed something had to be done to bring attention to this beach.  As a photographer, I felt for the first time, that taking only a picture was not enough.  Making use of the discarded refuse that has overwhelmed this natural landscape, I began building large-scale sculptures out of the debris collected, hoping to draw attention to the problems that exist in our own backyard.

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