Ode to the Merrimack River

This is a tribute to the Merrimack River. Over the course of my life the Merrimack River has been ever present as a source of meditation and comfort. I was born and raised in the Merrimack Valley, and lived a block away from the nearest boathouse. I’ve spent a great deal of time with the river and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight its beauty in the various locations I have been privy to.

However, it is not that simple. Over the course of my studies I have made the mistake of believing I could capture the moment. When you’re all alone near rushing water, it seems a photograph doesn’t own up to its "thousand words" quota. I could not document the self-growth and trials and tribulations that the river has eased from my heart.

After overcoming the burden of trying to capture reality and seeing photographs for the objects they are, my desire to pay tribute to the river led me to an obvious conclusion… add texture. If I cannot capture anything for what it truly is, then I can add in what I deem to be missing. Texture.

By revisiting the photo process, I have engaged in a bit of formal play by introducing textured and stained glass to the post production of these photographs. Through this method, I am able to introduce textures and colors in a way you could not with digital manipulation.

Joel Victoriano Rojas

Artist Statement - Fall

Ultimately through this series I intend to convey my relationship with the Merrimack River and emphasize its importance for habitat and humanity.

My goal is that organizations that support the river will receive more attention and more funding due to the impact of my photos. I want the books and articles that I read to receive more attention because it does a better job at giving information than I could and what I can do is create images that cause a discussion, that makes people ask questions. The Merrimack river is a good asset for mental health. It is an important source for water, agriculture and energy. It supports the entire Merrimack Valley and communities far from it. It has supported the Industrial Revolution and it continues to support the descendants that still live in the Merrimack Valley today. 

Through the images I ultimately create, I want to create a positive image that conveys solutions to some of the dilemmas we face with the river as well as spark a general conversation. I want people to spend time with the river, to indulge in the river and to benefit from it. Ultimately I just want to get people to support the river themselves. If we have more people using our parks and swimming in the river, those are visual cues that we as a community believe the river is important, and the support to clean up the river and take care of it will naturally follow.

Throughout this semester I have been exploring ways to do this that strays away from narratives or cliche landscapes.

In order to help me create this final series of images next semester, I decided to spend this semester exploring only my personal relationship with the river, resulting in these images you see here. I wanted to explore how I feel when I look at the river, when I spend time with the river and how I remember the river. I wanted to work through these feelings, conveying them in these images in order to ultimately decide which parts of myself I will keep for the work I do next semester. Looking for positive constructive ways to do the things I said I want to do.

Joel V. Rojas

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