David Mattox

We are very pleased to feature David Mattox for our May feature. A Fine Art photographer and commercial fisherman Davids's remarkable works have been seen in exhibits at 555 Gallery and Thomas Young Gallery in Boston his photographs have also appeared in numerous group exibitions including the Photographic Resource Center Boston.

(Please click on the images above to view them in a slideshow menu)

Fish Camp

When we experience places through someone else’s eyes, the viewer is challenged to find their own connection to the images, as well as understanding the artist’s.  It is an added benefit when the artist is a part of the place they are capturing, and David Mattox is not an outsider in his Fish Camp series.  In these ongoing works, Mattox documents life inside a camp on the Upper Cook Inlet of Alaska, a community that comes together each summer for the commercial harvest of wild sockeye salmon. Mattox has worked in this camp for over a decade, evident in the intimacy of his images.  The commercial fishing element of the series is apparent throughout, but one needs to spend time with the other views to more fully grasp the narrative—and Mattox’s people define the landscape.

When you are looking at a place that you have no personal knowledge of, you seek commonalities in everyday activities, and a connection to the people.  In a series, particularly one that inhabits an on-going narrative, we crave the familiar.  Human interactions define this work—a man, both wary and knowing, confronting the camera from a window, a baby engulfed in an embrace, awkward kids at an in-between age where they are both too big and too small, inventive ways of using duct tape—we can relate to all of this—and Mattox’s view and deft capturing of these moments makes us want to know what happens next.

- Jessica Roscio, Curator Danforth Museum & Initiative Contributor

David Mattox

Visit: David Mattox Photography

Bio

David Mattox is a photographer and Alaskan commercial salmon fisherman.  Born and raised in Oregon, he graduated from the University of Portland in 2004 with a BA in Philosophy and English Literature.  Upon graduation, he took a job as a deckhand on a setnet skiff on Alaska's Cook Inlet, and has returned every summer since.  Currently, David is living in Boston, MA with his wife and their 2 gray cats, traveling to Alaska as a family for the seasonal harvest of wild sockeye salmon as East Side Setnetters on the Upper Cook Inlet.  His ongoing project "Fish Camp" documents the work and the lifestyle of his summers spent on the shores of Alaska.  He studies photography through workshops and is represented in Boston by 555 Gallery.

Statement

Fish Camp is an ongoing series of photographs documenting an East Side Setnet Camp on the Upper Cook Inlet of Alaska, a camp that comes together each summer for the commercial harvest of wild sockeye salmon as they return to spawn in the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers.  I have worked in this camp for over a decade, first for 4 years as a deckhand, and since 2008, as a permit holder, captain and owner of my own small operation.

When I first began traveling to Alaska, I was struck more than anything by the contrast between the stark beauty of its landscapes and the weathered state of disrepair in which much of its towns and outlying communities appeared to be.  I have come to find Alaska to be a place where the realities of its seasons, the expanse of land, coastline, open water, and the extremity of its industries combine to create not only unique lifestyles among its inhabitants, but in particular a culture of work that is often misrepresented and misunderstood by the “lower forty-eight”.  In the 14 summers spent in Alaska, of all the things I have pointed my camera at, I have become most drawn to make pictures of the people that I work with because I find the allure of Alaska’s character more prominently displayed than anywhere else on the faces of the individuals that live its narrative season after season.  This is a character which ultimately gives view of a cultural landscape that plays out on one of the greatest stages of land, water, and horizon that I have ever been privileged enough to witness.