The Rocks Cry Out, 2018, archival digital print, 11.5×16

Location: Oak Forest, IL
Featured Work: The Rocks Cry Out

Describe your featured work
Every year I give myself a word challenge to help create a statement of faith through my work. In 2018, my word was “Transcendence.” I had been reading about Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters Jerusalem and the people are shouting praises to God. The Pharisees approach Jesus, “teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He replies, “If they become silent, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:39-40). His response never left me.

For this particular image I used a technique I call the “transference of illumination” – where light appears to be radiating from the subject rather than the source. That effect, combined with a day-for-night treatment of the sky visually connects the two, and the rock formation appears to be causing the phenomenon. The clouds help to define the dimensional space overhead. On the day when I was photographing the desert landscape, we had great cloud cover. In this particular case, I was looking for the illumination effect to emerge from the rock formation as though building with intensity.

Because of my great respect for the historical photographic process and the craft of fine art printing, I’m careful to fine-tune the software controls when editing my photographs. My hope is that the end result will engage the viewer to actively connect and participate in the life of the image.

Waiting, 2015, archival digital print 10x13
Waiting, 2015, archival digital print 10×13
Ascension, 2014, archival digital print 11x14
Ascension, 2014, archival digital print 11×14

Artist Statement
Ultimately, having the ability to create in this life is truly a gift from God, so, in everything I find visual attachment, I want to honor Him, first and foremost. My work covers several genres within the field of photography, from landscapes to city streets. The one constant is a desire to reflect an expression of gratitude. I generally work using the approach of idea to image. This allows me to hone my intent, and use it as an editing filter. Once I make my selections to print, I use various software skills to enhance and interpret the final images.


What are you making now?

Like most photographers, I’m often working on several projects simultaneously.
I have an ongoing series entitled Street Level which I revisit each year. I have been working on it since the early 70’s. The ever-changing life on the street has always fascinated me. (A sample image, Waiting, is included here.)

I have decided that my visual pursuit of “Transcendence” requires more exploration. The Rocks Cry Out series is a result of that study, which came to me in early 2018, producing the first prints over the summer months. That said, I have selected the word “Adoration” for 2019. I’m hoping to create new images in the Fall with this theme in mind. Over the next calendar year, I’m volunteering my curatorial ability to help the Southside Pregnancy Center install donated art pieces on the walls of their brand new facility.

Under Siege, 2008, archival digital print 18x14
Under Siege, 2008, archival digital print 18×14
Crown of Light, 2011, archival digital print 13x10
Crown of Light, 2011, archival digital print 13×10

Why do you belong to CIVA?
I joined CIVA about two years ago. At that time, I was looking for a community of artists with a common purpose, namely to bring glory to the Lord through the visual arts. I have found few venues where this type of commonality exists. In the near future, I hope to network with members who work primarily in photography to share images and meaningful dialogue. I’m grateful for the work CIVA has accomplished and has yet to achieve as we move forward together reflecting with impact of a Christian worldview within our contemporary culture.

Don Kouba was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in the western suburbs of the city. He became interested in photography at age 14, and, with his father’s last-minute aide, bought his first “serious” camera during his senior year of high school. He holds a B.F.A. with honors from Columbia College and an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. Four years after graduation, Kouba landed a full-time professor’s position at Prairie State College in Illinois, where he served until retirement in 2010. Since that time, he has happily returned to making photographs full-time.