Oxbow Archive


This series of medium-format photographs was taken around the Oxbow extension of the Connecticut River just south of Northampton, Massachusetts. Initiated without the knowledge of Thomas Cole’s painting, View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm, nor of Joel Sternfeld’s own photographic project, Oxbow Archiveit might now be most easily understood as a reaction to those works.

These images are intended to collapse the environmentalism at the conceptual heart of those two projects: Cole depicting logging and agriculture’s toll on the land, and Sternfeld recording a romantic seasonality threatened by climate change. By refusing the picturesque perspectival space shown in these depictions of the Oxbow, I hope to shift the viewer away from an ecological reading and toward an elemental one comprised of water, plants, and styrofoam.

Thomas Cole (American, Lancashire 1801–1848 Catskill, New York), View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow, 1836, Oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 76 in. (130.8 x 193 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York