Peter Happel Christian

Black Holes & Blind Spots
2010 - ongoing

Inspired by the ideas of American Transcendentalism, I photograph non-descript situations that make me pause and consider the varied relationships people have with the natural world. I wonder if it is possible to have a transcendental experience in a residential landscape with my camera, far from the ideal, traditional places of the sublime. Black spots are digitally applied to each image to characterize how I am compelled to photograph such situations, pulled in to the subject matter like the gravity of a black hole. Conversely, the black spots partially disguise each image, disrupting the viewer's field of vision and negating the photograph's function as an effective communication tool.

Peter Happel Christian grew up in Eastern Iowa about an hour from the Mississippi River. From the Midwest he moved to the American West for five years, living in Oregon and Arizona, and that time had a great impact on his perceptions of history, nature, location, experience and representation. His work investigates social relationships with the natural world through the intersection of photography, sculpture, performance and collaboration.

Peter earned an MFA from the University of Oregon in 2003 and a BFA from the University of Iowa in 1999. He has received funding for his work through an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council for Interdisciplinary/Performance Art (2008), a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photography from the McKnight Foundation (2011) and New Researcher Awards from Saint Cloud State University (2010, 2013). His work is in the collections of the Tucson Museum of Art, Center for Creative Photography and The Midwest Photographer's Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Peter Happel Christian lives and work in Central Minnesota where he is an Associate Professor in the Art Department at Saint Cloud State University.