Contact Sheet 156: Stephen Chalmers
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Light Work (April 1, 2010)
This catalogue features the work of photographer Stephen Chalmers. The images in Unmarked create a lasting link between life-and-death events and the land. By inviting us to gaze directly on the sites of untimely and tragic deaths, Chalmers gives us courage to confront our fears about the end of life and its remembrance.
In Unmarked, Chalmers, who is a trained social worker, former emergency medical technician, and professor, photographs so called dumpsites, places where the bodies of victims of serial killers were abandoned. These sites remain largely unmarked by any kind of memorial, unlike the sites of automobile accidents, which are frequently adorned with elaborate roadside memorials. Acknowledging these dumpsites and the people who died there through his images, Chalmers lifts a stigma that unceremoniously draws a line of remembrance between those who died by intentional acts of violence and those who did not.
While Chalmers treads on sensitive ground as he explores and documents dumpsites in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, he hopes to exchange sensational headlines and the inevitable scandal tied to such sites with something more meaningful. Instead, he offers an elegant memorial that shifts our gaze away from infamy and back to the humanity of the victims.
This catalogue includes an essay by Light Work Associate Director Mary Goodwin.
Stephen Chalmers has taught many workshops in alternative photographic processes and digital imaging, and he has been a visiting artist at numerous colleges and universities. He has been a contributor to five books — most recently Climbing the Ladder with Gabriel (2009), featuring collaborative work with women who have overcome their addictions to methamphetamine. His work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions throughout the United States and in Australia, South Africa, and China. Chalmers’ photographs are in many permanent collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Polaroid Foundation, the Getty Research Institute, and Light Work.
Chalmers earned his MFA in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University and was professor of Photography and Digital Media in Washington for eight years.