July 2012 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity continue a summer focus on water as we wonder at Ed Wargin’s Great Lakes photography. We invite you to learn more about a photographer who inspires us to see the incredible richness and awesome beauty of the Great Lakes. Learn first hand about The Fresh Coast Project.
About Ed Wargin
Photographer Ed Wargin noticed that something seemed divided about the Great Lakes and the way people viewed them. He noticed that most people tended to view the Great Lakes as parts of a whole, depending upon where they were from, or their proximity to a particular shore. States tended to focus on the lake(s) or areas of shoreline that affected them most directly, and through this, populations and cultures seemed to consider and promote each Great Lake as a separate environment from the region as a whole. It became apparent that the Great Lakes seemed to be an ecosystem and heritage divided by state lines, a national boundary, and local municipalities.
It was during this same time that the digital revolution was launched and well underway – meaning the migration from film to digital was solidified and permanent. There is no doubt about the benefits of digital imagery, its ease of creation, use, and ability to manipulate content.
But what about film? thought Wargin. Film is an indisputable, tangible and historic reference material. The archival properties of digital imagery have yet to be proven, while the archival nature of film is known and resolute. Regarding digital imagery, content manipulation can occur and regularly does, and how does one utilize an unproven medium as historic evidence of time and place? How will future generations recognize whether or not a digital image they will use as reference is one that has been altered or changed in some way? How will they know what was real and what was not? Film provides us a raw canvas through which we can verify that content has not been altered. Considering these factors, the baseline for the project was set – to create a photographic collection of the Great Lakes as a whole – on film.
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As the project planning was underway with the apparent realities of its magnitude only growing – the Great Lakes began to undergo new threats to its health such as invasive species. Add this to the project mission, and to Wargin, the project became a calling.
“Many photographers have photographed segments of the Great Lakes or the individual lakes, but to the best of my knowledge, there hasn’t been a photographic project that encompasses the entire Great Lakes basin as one region, one whole. The aim of The Fresh Coast Project is to do just that, to capture the visual Great Lakes as one complete story. To us, the Great Lakes is our Yosemite, it is our Grand Canyon, our Redwood Forest, our Everglades. The Great Lakes as one ecosystem is a wonder of the world. Through this project, I hope that when people hear the words “Great Lakes” there is an immediate visual recognition of the whole in their mind’s eye, which makes it easier for people to connect, and ultimately, take care of, explore, and celebrate this vast resource. I think it’s important for all of us to understand what we have to gain by appreciating and protecting these waters for generations to come. They are a gift of nature and nurture, and we need to pass on a legacy of concern, gratitude, pride and stewardship to younger generations. We need to model the behaviors we seek, so to speak.” – Ed Wargin