Richard Boutwell, originally from the High Desert of Southern California, lives and works as a photographer and printmaker outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Instead of pursuing a traditional academic education in photography, Boutwell relocated to Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 2002 for an intensive apprenticeship with the photographers Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee. He worked closely with them in the field and darkroom, absorbing as much as possible, while independently studying the historic and theoretical aspects of the medium. His photographs have been included in national and international group exhibitions and are in a number of public and private collections. He has taught photography privately and has served as a guest lecturer at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. He now writes and teaches photography and digital technique through the website, Black and White Mastery.
Boutwell's personal work, originally influenced by early 20th-century modernists, shifted as he was exposed to the work of the New Topographics, along with the work of the 19th century colonial expedition and geological survey photographers. This led him to begin investigating his personal connection to the greater cultural, industrial, and environmental history of the landscape—mostly involving issues of water rights in the West, and the impact of recreation on the desert landscape in his native California. His current bodies of work incorporate found objects informed by aspects of archeology and anthropology, and large-scale manipulations of appropriated mapping and scientific images.
PERSONAL ARTIST STATEMENT
I see myself as mixture of documentarian, photographer, digital artist, and printmaker—intertwining my personal connection to the history of the American West and focusing on issues of land-use, recreation, conservation, and the confluence of the natural and human-impacted landscape.
Working with a camera as a way of exploring and documenting the world has always been a personally exciting experience. My creative process starts with a reaction to an idea or simply something seen in the world (which often involves seemingly chaotic aspects within the landscape). Then, through the camera, it transforms into an emotional interaction between myself and the subject. That interaction continues and evolves as I scan the film and work with the image on the computer. Once digitized, I work with image’s tonalities on a purely abstract level, exploring all the film has captured to create or intensify the movement and tension within the image. The final result, while still based on what was actually in front of the lens, becomes part document and part internal creation.
I have always felt that one of the most rewarding aspects of photography and printmaking is the handmade aspect of creating something with light, drawing from physical qualities of the interaction of light and metal salts that give the print an inherent potential to be a beautiful object—regardless of the subject that is actually photographed. For the images I create, I find the purely digital realization of the image ultimately unsatisfying, and output the digital file in a way that I can incorporated historic hand-coated photographic processes into my way of working—effectively bridging the 19th and 21st centuries.
- Remote Sensing 23rd Griffin Museum Juried Exhibition, 2017
- Remote Sensing 2008-2013 LightRoom Annual Group Exhibition, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, 2016
- Tête-à-Tête: Conversations in Photography, James A. Michener Art Museum, 2016
- Mojave Desert Artifacts Bang!Bang! Artists Against Guns Gaia Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, 2016
- Go West: Looking Back/Looking In, Photographs from 15 years LightRoom Annual Group Exhibition, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, 2015
- Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Member Exhibition, 2015
- Mojave Desert Artifacts, Objects of Our Discontent Connexions Gallery, Easton, Pennsylvania, 2015 Paradigm Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2015 BH Studio 945, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 2015
- Ambler|Meditations LightRoom Annual Group Exhibition, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, 2014
- Remote Sensing, Alternatives, Heilongjiang Art Museum, China, 2013
- Sol Invictus LightRoom Annual Group Exhibition, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, 2012
- Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Juried Exhibition, 2012
- Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Member Exhibition, 2012
- Newspace Center for Photography Juried Exhibition, Portland, Oregon, 2012
- Mojave Desert Artifacts LightRoom Annual Group Exhibition, 3rd Street Gallery, Philadelphia, 2011
- Onward Juried Competition, Project Basho, Philadelphia, 2011
- Space Between Breaths, group exhibition, Gardenville, Pennsylvania 2010
- Winter Art Salon, The LightRoom Gallery, Philadelphia, 2009
- Friends of Project Basho, Project Basho, Philadelphia, 2007
- Lower Owens River Project, Two Person Exhibition, Project Basho, Philadelphia, 2007
- Lower Owens River Project, From the Studio IV
The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, 2007
- Spotlight: B&W Magazine, Issue No. 53, 2007
- Remote Sensing: Journal of the Arts, October, 2012
Lectures and Talks
- Rowan University, 2017, 2018
- Lighting Lectures, James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, 2016
- Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 2007
- Various private collections
- Haverford College library
- Free Library of Philadelphia Print and Picture Collection