By David Blow
My vision since childhood has been of being one with God and nature. As a young boy on a dairy farm in Michigan—when I wasn’t helping with the farm chores, feeding and caring for the dairy animals, working the land, planting and harvesting—my interests were split between hunting with my father and spending time in my room drawing and painting.
After high school, I was off to the Kendall School of Design, work in a design studio, Michigan State University for printmaking, an enlistment with the Army Intelligence Agency, back to Michigan State to complete a B.F.A, back to Kendall to teach, then off to Syracuse University for an M.F.A.
Resuming my interest in nature, this time with a camera instead of a rifle, I’m currently pursuing the duality of godliness and peacefulness one senses in nature. Creation of Autumn illustrates the beauty and majesty of God’s sense-filling tapestry of harmonious color and patterns and Winter’s Chapel evokes the palpable sacredness of nature. We retreat to nature whenever we need a new perspective or peace of mind; nature can be a source for spiritual, mental, and physical renewal. The virgin snow and the song of the red cardinal reminds me of God’s perfect chapel all around us.
My current work is investigating nature’s vibrations—signals from God. Beyond mere flesh and blood, we are all, as Michael Beckwith puts it, “vibrational beings.” The physicist Michio Kaku claims that at the subatomic level, the universe is insubstantial, just vibrations, like a violin string. Quarks, electrons, and the rest are like notes on a string, and we are each a song—music made flesh. In Genesis 1:2, we read that the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters—vibrated, as it were, over matter to energize it, preparing it to be shaped and formed. All things vibrate as the Creator intended. In my photography, I try to make these vibrations visible.
The palette I use is nature’s own. I use graphic squares to represent the vibrations/music found in the images. Aesthetically, I seek to show the harmony between the natural scenic beauty and the vibrations within it. Tranquility conveys the tranquility of elk feasting on the spring pasture near their home glen, and Family Values evokes the serenity of a family of deer. In each, the graphic squares represent the vibrations I feel, the wholeness—and holiness—observable in nature, bridging the gap between science, ecology, and theology. It’s rare to find a person who hasn’t experienced a deeply moving and pleasurable sense of oneness with something awesomely larger than themselves when they are truly present in nature.
The question “Are We There Yet?” reminds me of Peter Mayer’s lyrics in Holy Now: “So the challenging thing becomes not to look for miracles but finding where there isn’t one.” Everything is holy now, every new day is another miracle of life for which I am thankful. To continue to grow and walk in the light of God’s love which dispels all darkness is a gift of grace and mercy.
David Blow is a photographer/printmaker and Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of North Texas.