National Character Photographing American Character
John Sanderson

National Character is a exhibition of John Sanderson’s large format color photographs taken with an 8×10″ film camera. Portraying the varied American landscape, the images take us from the steel mills of the industrial Midwest, down through the rural South and to the high plains of Wyoming. This geographically broad rendering attempts to uncover the meaning and disclose the relationships of every American environment we traverse: the urban, the rural, the industrial, the suburban, and the natural. With a background in political science, Sanderson layers each photograph and places his practice firmly within a cultural geography framework. It is here where each image questions the many contradictions inherent to The American Identity. John Sanderson traces many of his artistic influences to the Theater District of Manhattan, New York City, where he grew up and continues to maintain a studio. Surrounded by the street grid of the city, with its long avenues and cross streets, developed an early appreciation of architecture. John’s interest in photographing people was an extension of his being raised middle-class in a diverse city with few cultural barriers. These dual influences are brought forth in each photograph.

Working almost exclusively with large-format film cameras allows Sanderson to print with fine detail and subtle nuances of color and tone unique to that film process. The exhibition will include a selection of ten framed photographs ranging in size from 40×50″ to 8×10″ inches. The prints are selected from his larger body of work

About the Artist

John Sanderson is drawn to broad topographical subjects within the United States of America. It is there in the outdoors where he feels most creative. His photographs reconcile American motives of impermanence, and expansion within the contemporary landscape. The influence of growing up in New York City’s Midtown Manhattan underpins much of Sanderson’s work which is rooted in a passion for architectural design. He captures photographs for each project with large format film cameras. Sanderson’s photographs have been featured in a variety of publications such as: PDN Magazine, Slate Magazine, BBC News, The Wall Street Journal, Lenscratch, and NBC News. Fallen Flags, and Railroad Landscapes have both been the subject of several solo and group exhibitions. In 2017, he published National Character, a Monthly Monograph Magazine, by Subjectively, Objective. Zatara Press published his Carbon County project in 2019, which originated with an artist residency at Brush Creek, Wyoming in 2015 and 2017. In 2022, the Kentucky Documentary Photographic Project commissioned Sanderson to photograph the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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