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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

People In Color

Nevada Wier is the quintessential traveler and global adventurer. Among her recent destinations are the outer, less-known areas of Burma and India.

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Wier makes use of any and all technology that will enable her to convey a story of the people she encounters. In Gujurat, India, she works in infrared to create a unique effect that isolates the women as they carry water to their homes.
Perhaps it's because her home amid the beautiful landscapes of the American Southwest has saturated her psyche with images of rocks and trees and streams, but Wier isn't into setting up her tripod to catch a slope of green as it descends into valleys below or puffy clouds dotting an azure sky. You'll see very few landscapes—perhaps one or two from Nepal—among her selected images because Wier captures people instead. Faces, smirks and that little reflection off a cornea—these are her dramatic vistas.

Explains Wier, "I photograph people. I really like people—occasionally a tree or two—but mostly people. I realized, forget trying to go to places where there are no people—and there are people everywhere. And I fell in love with indigenous cultures."

So Wier traveled to see people almost everywhere, from South America to Africa, but she has spent most of her time in Asia.

Asia And India
It's in Asia that Nevada Wier has left her biggest mark or, rather, had the big-gest mark left on her. She started with that single camera in Nepal and ventured across the region. Her first trip to Myanmar in 1986, when it was still known popularly as Burma, has resulted in a nearly annual journey for 25 years. Working on a long-term project, she hopes to bring the story of what the Burmese have endured as pressure on the ruling junta and international attention escalate.

Even though Wier lives in the United States , in her travels, Asia operates as her home base. She keeps a home in New Mexico, but half-packed suitcases and camera bags are like furniture in her house. Her time in recent years is spent traveling to the subcontinent, venturing through less-traveled parts of Pakistan and India, jumping through Thailand, Myanmar and China. The stories are intense and humbling; the images are surreal, vivid and, at times, haunting.

Recently, Wier has focused on India and, specifically, on "Outer India." That was the name of a recent exhibition in which she presents us with a part of India with which most people aren't familiar. The bright red saris, adorned with gold, and waving to beats created by Bollywood-inspired music are missing from Wier's photographs of India, and her striking photos tell a story of a people that hardly seem to be of one single nation. She manipulates and spins color to present an India that you don't see on television or coming from Bollywood. Wier explains, "Photography is purely interpretive, utilizing imperfections as well as the perfect. I'm trying to photograph what I feel as much as what I see."

Exploring Light, Color And Outer India
Wier interprets what she sees into an image—sometimes with light, sometimes with technique, more often, with equipment.

"When you talk about color," she says, "I understand what happens with contrasting light. I know how to render things so they're going to work as an image." Wier is definitely not your average casual observer.


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