Spring 2016, Volume 20

From the Art Editor

Professor Fabrice B. Poussin's photographs of White Sands National monument take us to a place of great contrasts that at first appear little touched by humans. A strangely distant sky contains a simple enormity of immaculate air that holds down a complexity of forms, of desert life and remnants of life. What is within arm's reach is full of visual contrast, smooth and grainy, barbed, tufted, lithe, skeletal, seared, wet.  

But humans have been in and around the world's largest gypsum sand dunes for at least 10,000 years. Ranching was displaced in the World War II era when about half the dunes were reserved for military use including atomic bomb development and missile testing that continues today. Indeed, the monument is completely surrounded by military property.

To follow in Professor Poussin's footsteps, you must check in daily with the National Park Service. Parts of the monument can be closed on short notice when nearby explosions need a wider berth. While we don't see fragments of bomb casings or blast craters in his photographs, they are implied in the riveting visual silence. Desert silence feels timeless and yet offers no opposition to drama in the next well-observed moment.


                                                                                     — Jack Miller