On Assignment for Le Monde

I was hired by Le Monde this summer to shoot a story on Nebraska farmers forced to hack their combines, tractors, and other equipment due to tight controls by companies like John Deere over who can repair the machines they manufacture.

2013 Clarence John Laughlin Award Recipient

Walker Pickering
Nearly West

Holy Ghost Revival by Walker Pickering

Holy Ghost Revival by Walker Pickering

Juror's Statement

 “If the photographer looks intensely enough, [they] can find the secret images of our fears, joys and desires. Everything is speaking to us – every object.”
—Clarence John Laughlin

Looking intensely is an important, but strangely underrated, practice in contemporary photography. As Laughlin reminds us, it is through the act of looking intensely that we can begin to understand ourselves and the world around us. When we are very young, we do almost nothing but look. Consequently, we learn at an incredible rate in the early stages of life. As we age, learning and recognition becomes habitual, and looking becomes a cursory process. We look, we think we know, and we move on.

Walker Pickering (born 1980) is still paying very close attention to the things around him, and in his body of work, Nearly West, he draws our attention to various compelling remnants of human history: a children’s slide in a forest, a solar powered American flag light, building signage, motels, and empty parking lots. In some cases, Pickering presents a distant past (the slide is rusting and the flag light faded) in others, however, it appears that we have stumbled upon a recently—and suddenly—vacated space. All of these pictures embody a haunting and surreal sense of place and history, emphasizing the strangeness of the worlds that we create, populate, and then leave behind. Clarence John Laughlin often went out of his way to manipulate, distort, double, and stretch his subjects in order to impart a kind of psychic energy, to stress the surreal. Pickering, whose images are straight—if beautiful—transcripts of actual places, reminds us that the world is often strange enough as it is.

Russell Lord
Freeman Family Curator of Photographs
New Orleans Museum of Art

Walker Pickering writes about his project: “As a child, I was fortunate to spend time with my father while he lived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. This instilled in me a great sense of adventure, where travel has been formative to my work, and caused me to seek out the exotic among the ordinary. My long-term project, Nearly West, is a journey through the land of my childhood, re-imagining places my ancestors lived and experienced.”

Article on Nowhere Near Here Exhibition

I was thrilled to have my work included in the Nowhere Near Here large group exhibition that spans both FotoFest and the Houston Center for Photography spaces. Rachel Hooper, associate curator and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fellow at the Blaffer Art Museum, wrote a piece for ...might be good where my work is briefly mentioned:

The striking and odd beauty of Walker Pickering's road trip photos makes an indelible impression at HCP, especially in the serene and dramatic light and shadows of Hole and Overlooks (both 2009/2010).

ArtLies covers Nowhere Near Here Exhibition

Two generous quotes from Logan Sebastian Beck's article in ArtLies:

While the videos destabilize the majority of the still photographic work on view, they also accentuate exactly what several of the selected photographers do well. Shooting in film, and continuing the dialogue of straight documentary photography, the best of these artists—such as standouts Walker Pickering and Mike Osborne—produce clear, concise images with poetic compositions.

and

Walker Pickering’s spectacular medium-format prints on display at HCP are seductive while maintaining a clarity and simplicity of vision. Pickering echoes subject matter from the road-trip photographs of Garry Winogrand and Stephen Shore—the motel parking lot, the lonely road, the fast-food stop—the et cetera of Americana. Like Winogrand and Shore, Pickering’s project is to transform the banal into the beautiful. He invites the viewer through his lens into a state of lucidity in which something is revealed that seemingly wasn’t there before the shutter clicked. Pickering’s Hole (2009) monumentalizes the transient: A gaping hole in a river seems to expand the longer you look at it, slowly yet steadily swallowing up more and more of the water’s—and the image’s—mirror-like surface. This picture and others like it, such as Camaro, Meal and Overlook (all 2009), urge the viewer to reengage in something that may be a dying practice in our era of the ubiquitous screen—the practice of really looking.