Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate
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Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
Born in Fort Leonard Wood, MO/Tulsa, OK, in 1968/64
Resides in Boston, MA

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison have been collaborating for years in creating artistic photographs. Their work has been displayed in 18 solo exhibitions and over 30 group shows presented worldwide in places such as Japan, Canada, and Italy. In addition, their work can be found in over 20 prestigious art collections, including the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution and the George Eastman House. The ParkeHarrisons also lecture extensively on art and human influences on the environment.

In The Architect’s Brother, named in 2000 as one of “the Ten Best Photography Books of the Year” by the New York Times (DeCodorva), the couple portrays our environmentally shattering world in starkly poetic monochromatic photographs. These photographs are not simply taken; rather they are fabricated by the artists using photomontage and painting techniques. Each of the resulting images is metaphorical. They feature Robert ParkeHarrison as an “Everyday Man” performing various tasks in symbolic attempts to save our polluted planet. Regarding their works Robert has said, “My photographs tell stories of loss, human struggle, and personal exploration within landscapes scarred by technology and over-use…. [I] strive to metaphorically and poetically link laborious actions, idiosyncratic rituals and strangely crude machines into tales about our modern experience.” (Holy Cross)

Both Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison have college degrees in Fine Arts. After completing his bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, NM, in 1990, Robert ParkeHarrison obtained a Masters in Fine Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute, MO, in 1994 and Shana received a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Williams Woods College, Fulton, MO, in 1986. Currently, the ParkeHarrisons reside in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, near the college of the Holy Cross, where Robert teaches photography.

Pictures in Gallery


Works Description

Beauty, chaos, confusion, hope, grieve, anger, and joy, are just a few of the feelings that one may experience when looking at the Reclamation and Procession series created by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. The amazingly captivating images presented in these collections are portraits of an imaginary man-controlled nature. By means of these images, the ParkeHarrisons remind us of our effect on nature, whether it be marks we leave on the earth, or the destruction of entire landscapes for materialistic purposes. By manipulating the photographic process through alternative darkroom and printing techniques, these artists have given us images that can be studied and admired for hours. Little do we know, by looking at these environmental portraits, how much we are being told. Because of their particular tonalities and coloration, these story-telling pictures may at first appear less engrossing than they really are. But upon closer study, one will find that this unique style really enriches the images and gives the artists their own identity. While looking at The Guardian, for example, one can’t help but wonder: if we were in complete control of nature, would we protect it? Hopefully, the ParkeHarrisons can teach us how.

Selected Bibliography

ParkeHarrison, Robert. The Architect's Brother. Santa Fe, NM: Twin Palms, 2000.

"Robert H. ParkeHarrison." Holy Cross Profiles, 2005. Weblink.

"Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architect's Brother." DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park. 19 July 2004. Weblink.