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Matinee: 'Art Wolfe at TEDxRainier' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 August 2014

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the forty-sixth in our series of Saturday matinees today: Art Wolfe at TEDxRainier.

You may know Art Wolfe as the entertaining host of Travels to the Edge on PBS, chasing after wildlife in some inaccessible part of the world. We're always glad he went so we don't have to.

There's more to the man than those shows display, though.

In a recent 23-minute TEDxRainier presentation, Wolfe tells his story, starting with his ambition to be a painter like his mother, showing in Seattle galleries.

In college, which he attended for seven years, he took a lot of art history classes at the University of Washington, becoming exposed to work and methods he had never seen before.

He spent his weekends hiking in the surrounding mountains. So his father, who had been a Navy photographer, gave him his old field camera to document what he saw.

His allegiance shifted from painting to photography because, he tells us, photography better suited his temperament. He could compose an image in an instant instead of working on a composition for hours. So after college, he switched to photography.

He looked at the camera as a passport to the world. He had always wanted to travel, to escape the smaller world he knew as a child. So he went on a world tour to the most remote places on earth, documenting indigenous cultures (he studied cultural anthropology in college, too).

That began his career as the author of 80 books.

He continues by showing how his art education informed his photography, like the very abstract works that inspired images of similar patterns he found in nature. Or images of animals whose markings hid them within their environment. "Always with the eye of art interlaced within the work," he points out.

All of this leads him on to his current project, the details of which we won't spoil. It is remarkable, though, how one thing led him to another without leaving anything behind.

While pushing the boundaries of the art out a little further all the time.

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