When I first returned from Indonesia, I still had one semester of school left. I took a one week workshop taught by Frank Gohlke on advanced black and white printing (this did a lot to cement my commitment to photography), and then spent the rest of my time pursuing my thesis work.
I wrote my college thesis on some of my experiences in Bali. Specifically, I wrote about Edward Said’s great work Orientalism. I wrote a paper called Contracts, Conditions, and Reacions: A Semiotic of Dominance. Essentially, I read Orientalism through the works of Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison.
I then left college and moved back to Denver, mostly to continue to play gamelan with Tunas Mekar.
With Tunas Mekar, I continued a pretty rigorous study of gamelan. Though while doing so, I also realized that I needed to continue with photography. I learned a few things about the history of photography working at the Colorado Historical Society, and knew that I didn’t need much to put a darkroom together. I saved a few hundred dollars and bought a 4×5 camera, and then set myself up to print in palladium, making contract prints under the sun.
Working at the Colorado Historical Society, I learned a great deal about the three most famous photographers of Colorado — William Henry Jackson, Laura Gilpin, and Robert Adams. When I first began making my photographs, I set out to fuse some of things I learned from these three photographs; I wanted to mix the painterly aesthetic of Gilpin (a great printer of platinum/palladium) with the sense of history and place found in Adams and Jackson.
I did this for several years. I worked a crappy retail job, and devoted my time and energy to gamelan and photography.