Half a Chisel to the Earth


The photographs that make up Half a Chisel to the Earth were taken between 2011 and 2022 primarily in various Western ecosystems of the United States. Inspired by the geology and isolation; the photographs hint at entropy and fragility. The images depict the landscape burning and eroded yet resilient and stoic. By deliberately divorcing the landscape from conventional perceptions of reality, the collection transcends human-centric experiences, inviting viewers to contemplate Earth’s psychology on the expansive scale of geologic time.

The rhythmic crash of waves against a dark, rugged coastline finds echoes in the colossal form of a monolith sculpted from 160-million-year-old Entrada Sandstone. Light gracefully penetrates each frame, akin to the sun’s reflection on a desert river, mirroring the dance of flames consuming a grassy hillside. Within these images, an ongoing interplay between the opposing forces of light and dark pervades, with scenes poised delicately on the brink of night, just before succumbing to the engulfing negative space. Some subjects assume a role akin to archetypal symbols, bestowing significance upon seemingly overlooked objects.

Midway through the sequence, a solitary human figure emerges, navigating an enigmatic landscape that implies the familiar human form as a drifter in an unfamiliar realm. This figure serves as a bridge, prompting the viewer to recognize themselves within the imagery and contemplate their position within the perpetual ebb and flow of order and chaos.

Tommy Nease is a photographer who finds inspiration in the stark contrasts of the landscape. Through his lens, he explores themes of resilience and connection to the natural world.

Nease’s journey as a photographer was unconventional. Instead of pursuing a traditional college education, he embarked on a series of adventures across the American West during his early twenties, traveling on freight trains and hitchhiking. These experiences, fueled by a curiosity and a love for exploration, became his education, shaping his understanding of the world and influencing his artistic vision.

Now based in Utah, Nease continues to draw inspiration from the rugged landscapes that surround him. Through his lens, he invites viewers to see beyond the surface, to find beauty in the ordinary and meaning in the chaos.

When he’s not behind the camera, Nease can be found on the front lines of wildfires, where his experiences as a firefighter inform his art. Amidst the flames and smoke, he discovers moments of clarity and inspiration, channeling the intensity of his experiences into his work.

Copyright © Tommy Nease, all rights reserved

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