At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic (which came down upon us much faster than I or almost anyone else anticipated), I traveled to New Mexico with the intention of continuing my photographic series, Reflections of Me/Reflections of You, featuring people in their intimate environments.
Within three days, everything started to close: Schools, state parks, restaurants and finally, national parks. After two weeks, everyone was ordered to stay at home—the whole world was at a standstill and social distancing suddenly became our new normal.
My original idea of meeting people became almost impossible. The streets were deserted; nobody wanted to be near anyone else. I rearranged my ideas to explore what we leave behind in our newly-abandoned towns and communities.
In the American Southwest, the scale of the visible landscape is so vast that we people seem to occupy only a small part of the place. In response, a home or business becomes an outsize statement of personality. The place, New Mexico, felt like a kindred spirit. It has an artist’s soul. Artists respond to its colors with color, color, and more color. In the middle of this beauty, Industry and the federal government occupy “open spaces” where they develop oil fields, military installations and missile-test sites in the most striking landscapes.
I am sad that I was not able to meet and talk to the local people because of the epidemic, but I made images where the people may not be visible, but their physical presence is on display. I felt a spiritual presence in the empty windows of the deserted streets. I tried to imagine the humanity that was going on inside. I tried to find a way to get beyond my own fears. I tried to express what we truly value.