Paula Chamlee - Natural Connections

Paula Chamlee - Natural Connections


Photographs by Paula Chamlee
Accompanied by Selections from her Journals
Essay by Estelle Jussim

44 reproductions, 112 pages
9 5/8 " x 11 1/2 "

Limited to an edition of 2,750 regular hardbound copies and a signed, numbered, custom-bound and slipcased limited edition of 250. 

Publication: 1994

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Natural Connections introduces for the first time a new process in the reproduction of photographs–laser Silver-Lit Tones™, a variation on the tri-tone process using silver ink as the third color. In Natural Connections, we invite you to explore the vision of a remarkable photographer and to experience photographs reproduced with unsurpassed fidelity. With this book, we have attempted to extend the boundaries of what is possible in the reproduction of photographs. 

Having come to photography after beginning a career as a painter, Paula Chamlee brings to her photographs a unique perspective and an original vision. Few women have attempted to photograph the American Landscape in the classic, large-format tradition pioneered by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, and none so successfully as Paula Chamlee. Her photographs, sensuous and lyrical, subtle and complex, transcend their recognizable subject matter while remaining deeply rooted in her profound connection to the natural world. Through Chamlee's photographs and writings in Natural Connections, we are absorbed into her experience with the American landscape, and we are led to examine our own connections. Chamlee's photographs are included in numerous collections, both public and private, in the United States and abroad.

Every detail of production of this exquisite book was supervised by the photographer. Produced to the exacting standards that are a hallmark of Lodima Press, this monograph reproduces Chamlee's contact prints with astounding fidelity to the delicacy and luminosity of the original photographs. The reproductions are printed on heavy cover stock by Gardner Lithograph using their newly developed process–laser Silver-Lit Tones. Natural Connections marks the first use of this superior technology in the reproduction of photographs. The reproductions are from 8x10, 5x7, and 4x5-inch contact prints and are presented one to a page with blank-facing pages so that the viewer can fully experience the rewards of contemplative and prolonged looking. A sturdy French-fold dust jacket protects and compliments the elegance of this fine book.

Interwoven throughout the book, accompanying the photographs are selections from Chamlee's journals–accounts of her experiences and insights while traveling and photographing–adding another dimension to our understanding of this artist and her work. The introductory essay by the award-winning art critic and historian, Estelle Jussim, reveals further insights into the development and creative life of the woman behind these extraordinary photographs. Altogether, the photographs, the writing, and the production values in Natural Connections combine to make a book that will be a valuable addition to photography and art book collections everywhere.

The Special Limited Edition, limited to 250 copies, is signed, numbered, custom-bound, and slipcased. It was originally offered with the purchaser's choice of any 8x10-inch image from the book at a price that was substantially lower than the price for a photograph alone. A limited number of these special limited edition books, without a print, are available for $200.

From the essay. The Evocative Art of Paula Chamlee by Estelle Jussim

A passion for primal nature informs Paula Chamlee's brilliant landscapes. The intensity of her vision reverberates like solemn and glorious music. . . . Her connections to nature are sensual, strongly emotional, aesthetically sophisticated.

As Chamlee moves about with her 8x10 camera, shifting its cumbersome bulk here and there to find the most exacting composition on the ground glass, it is the forms that move with her, until the real and the abstract rhythmically connect across space and time.

Chamlee's photographs are subtle, full of complex relationships and fragile tensions. . . . There is not only complex subtlety, but it is coupled with an organization of the picture space that invites the contemplation–the investigation–of every inch, a long, slow looking. Each moment of looking at a Chamlee landscape delivers more and more depth, more and more levels of visual meaning, and, above all, a sense of her connectedness to the nature she chooses to represent.



A Selection From Chamlee's Journal Entries

From the smallest discernible detail to the biggest view, all are in a kind of harmony and natural balance too large and too perfect fore me to comprehend. From the tiniest seed and insect to the largest mountain range or river, everything moves in curving, meandering, pulsating rhythms that reveal a commom denominator–the energetic force that formed all and continues to form and shape every natural thing. Nothing is the same, yet everything is clearly connected.

In the air—from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas, May 30, 1990

I continue to be amazed at how the lens and ground glass find my pictures for me. It is almost as if pre-selecting subject matter gets in the way. I realize that I seldom make photographs of what originally caught my eye and caused me to set up my camera. It would never be as thrilling if I knew in advance what would happen. Most of the time, much nicer things happen when there is the possibility of chance discovery. Subject matter becomes abstraction. Abstraction becomes a new adventure.

Sucia Island, Washington, June 12, 1990

We walked out over the sea of white sandstone, wandering, lingering, enjoying its stark, quiet beauty, its waves of massive spaces between us and the point high over the river. We walked to the edge and sat on a peninsula of rock, listening to the birds far below, their songs echoing and clear between the river and high canyon walls. The river is wide here, and yet we could hardly hear it below us. It is so peaceful in this remarkable place. This strange desert-land of boulders and rock faces continually reminding that they have lived for millions of years–being shaped, layered, broken, eroded, pushed up, melted, compressed, expanded–persisting and evolving, surviving through ages longer than the mind can comprehend. We are just passing through this time with no more significance than a single gnat, capable of much harm and of little or no benefit to this fragile environment.

White Rim Trail, Utah, June 17, 1993

Reviewer Comments

Working in an almost exclusively male tradition that stretches back to Watkins, through Weston, and up to Michael A. Smith, Chamlee has created a body of work which is different: quieter, often more intimate, and more spiritual, though just as magnificent. . . . With images that are in turns graphically striking, graceful, and breathtaking, Paula Chamlee succeeds in renewing our awe of the natural beauty to be found in our own country.

Stephen Perloff, Photo Review