Born Colorado, USA 1945 – Died Maastricht, the Netherlands 2022
I approach photography as an artist, in terms of composition for purposes of expression, using the camera as a tool with which I can create an image that speaks to ideas. For me, the process of making art – be it a painting, a photograph, a book of poetry or a piece of music – is a journey, an exploration to find my place in the universe and perhaps show others what I’ve discovered along the way. The process is a profoundly transcendent exercise: it is my spirit reaching out to speak to others.
– Gabriel Stillwater
Gabriel Stillwater began his career as an artist, studying life drawing at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and graduating in 1969. He refined his technique over the next few years until his paintings were nearly indistinguishable from photographs. When he discovered that he could take a photograph as an expression of art, it was a revelation: he was captivated. In 1975, he studied multiple-image darkroom technique with Jerry Uelsmann in the US. In 1976, he received an Artist in Residence award from the US National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which gave him the opportunity to travel extensively and experiment broadly in the darkroom.
Over the following years, Stillwater exhibited his photographs in private galleries and museums throughout Europe and the US. A particular highlight was the 2006 invitation from the US State Department to produce a ‘Silk Road’ photographic exhibition that toured the major art museums in Central Asia.
Upon his return to Europe, Stillwater applied himself to gaining a practice-based, interdisciplinary PhD in photography and poetry at Bath Spa University. This culminated in the creation of his photobook, Time-songs. Through the device of entirely constructed photographic albums, scrapbooks, letters, poems and photographs, Stillwater tells the story of two sisters and their families through time, from the latter part of the 19th century to the 1950s. For Stillwater, Time-songs was his life’s work, the accumulation and synthesis of a lifetime of experience.
He was still working and refining his images to make further photobooks when he passed away in March 2022.
Please click here to see more of Gabriel’s photography.