Michael Sherwin: Vanishing Points

By  |  December 10, 2013

In the series Vanishing Points Michael Sherwin documents the modern sites of previous American civilizations. Sherwin writes,

In my most recent project I explore the ancestry of the American landscape, and reflect upon traditional Western Anglo-American views of nature, wilderness, ownership, and spirituality. The project was inspired by the battle over the use of land that is now the Suncrest Town Center in Morgantown, WV. The Town Center was developed on a 2,000-year-old sacred indigenous burial ground and village site less than a mile from my house. I am fascinated by this simultaneous presence and absence in the landscape, the seen and unseen. Combining extensive research of historical archives, maps, and contemporary satellite imagery, as well as direct collaboration with archaeologists, historians, and scholars I have been able to locate and photograph numerous significant sites of Native American history in the regional area. The sites I choose to visit and photograph are literal and metaphorical vanishing points, places in the landscape where two lines, or cultures, converge. They are also actual locations where the sparse evidence of a culture's once vibrant existence has all but disappeared. While visiting these sites, I reflect on the monuments our modern culture will leave behind and what the archaeological evidence of our modern civilization reveals about our time on Earth.


Using the mediums of photography, video, and installation, Michael Sherwin’s art reflects on the experience of observing nature through the lenses of science and popular culture. He has won numerous grants and awards for his work, and has been exhibited widely, including recent shows at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences in Charleston, WV, Pittsburgh Filmmakers Gallery, and the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia. Sherwin earned a MFA from the University of Oregon in 2004, and a BFA from The Ohio State University in 1999. Currently, Michael Sherwin is an Associate Professor of Intermedia and Photography in the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University, and an active member of the Society for Photographic Education. To see more of his work, visit his website.

Jeff Rich is a photographer based in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Jeff currently teaches photography at Coastal Carolina University. He curates the OA’s weekly photo series, Eyes on the South.