“Life can be rough and reckless with human beings. I am continually struck by the amount of misfortune and catastrophe people can endure in a lifetime. It’s amazing what people survive – and what people don’t. I see my Panic Beach pictures as metaphors for the difficult twists and turns of everyday living. The compelling colors and patterns of the ocean may draw you in but the ferocity and brutality of the water are lurking too. Each photo blurs the distinctions between earth and sky, and flat and deep, which is how unbalanced I feel when a crisis hits. These images are taken in response to the random tumultuousness of the human experience. In fact, I get knocked down quite a bit by the ocean taking them. Based on the weather forecast and the surf report, I rise at dawn or head out before sunset to shoot. I am perched on large rocks in the ocean with my film-filled camera, tripod and flash. I hope the waves come close enough for my flash to freeze some of the action but not so close that my camera equipment and I get washed away. Both of these things have happened, of course. No amount of calculation lets me control the outcome perfectly. This project is a way for me – and an invitation for the viewer – to dive into the unpredictability and complexity of life. It’s not as if we have much choice about the havoc anyway.” Visit Tabitha Soren for more information.
This constellation of works is the literal entry point into and an invitation into the vision of the Lt. Governor’s Arts Project. The Lt. Governor’s portfolio consists of oversight of California’s institutions of higher education, our physical environment, and, most recently, our foreign relations and international trade. Upon being asked to curate works that represent these aspects of California, my first thought was about Tabitha Soren’s Panic Beach and how these almost-abstract images of the ocean would refer artistically to California’s majestic coastline.
Ms. Soren’s work probes psychological states and unearths not only what lies within our emotional selves, but beneath our greatest achievements. Panic Beach, with its hypnotic and tightly cropped close-ups of the surface of the surf in an arrangement that mimics a wave, draws visitors into our reception area with its texture and color. Other series from Ms. Soren’s current projects include Fantasy Life documenting the journeys of players from baseball’s California Athletics’ 2002 minor league draft picks over the course of 12 years.