Steve Dzerigian creates a journey of visual discovery in ‘Trail of Stones’

Trail of Stones book cover image

Book: Steve Dzerigian “Trail of Stones: My Path in Photography”
Artist Talk: 5 p.m., Wed., Sept. 4 in Henry Madden Library, Room 2206
Reception: 6 p.m., Wed., Sept. 4 in Henry Madden Library, Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery and second floor lobby.
Exhibition: Mon. Aug. 26 through Fri., Sept. 20, in the Leon S. Peters Ellipse Gallery

Filled with striking photographs of breathtaking landscapes and scenes, Fresno City College photography instructor Steve Dzerigian’s book depicts the ongoing symbiosis between people and their surroundings and the underlying source that connects elements of nature at their core.

Snowstorm in Monument Valley, 1976
Snowstorm in Monument Valley, 1976

“The natural world, especially the American Southwest, sand dunes and sculpted rock area like Arches National Park and Death Valley continue their allure,” said Dzerigian. “Though getting there is rare, I’m drawn to places of ancient, sacred constructions, such as Stonehenge and Avebury, England; Petra, Jordan; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; and Antigua, Guatemala. Central California is filled with the human imprint that continues to fascinate me as well.”

During his creative process, Dzerigian allows the experience to be an organic one. He focuses on participating with his subject and lets the photograph be a result of that relationship, not the motivation for it.

Orchestrated Light Painting of Double Arch, 2004, Gelatin silver print
Orchestrated Light Painting of Double Arch, 2004, Gelatin silver print

“I don’t hold on firmly to what I think an image or place should look like. If I detect something that excites me or seems to mean something special, then I move quickly to photograph, or at least move around it, study it, or rest there to take it all in. Eventually, a connection and a picture may be made. With most of my work, but especially in nature, I seek confluence,” said Dzerigian. “I often feel compelled to physically participate with the subject matter to make an image beyond the documentary approach that is common in much of my work … the results of this process form remarkably accurate entries in an on-going, visual diary.”

He says the moments of introspection extracted from the photographs served as the inspiration for their compilation into a visual autobiography. This spirit of collecting and recollecting embodies the overall message of the book.

Las Capuchinas, (The Singing Room), Antigua, Guatemala, 1997
Las Capuchinas, (The Singing Room), Antigua, Guatemala, 1997

“My hope is that others may recognize or at least re-affirm the value of introspection in their own aesthetic pursuits. We all are exposed to lessons in life, either challenging or uplifting; so, it was important to reinforce attentiveness, receptivity, and appreciation in my own path. Perhaps readers may also see the benefit in these practices.”

In addition to serving as a source for inspiration, Dzerigian hopes the book can also be utilized as a tool to better understand the process of creation and to provide support for other artists.

Annie Leibovitz, Yosemite Valley 1987
Annie Leibovitz, Yosemite Valley 1987

“I describe several blocks to creative thinking and ways to surmount them. Applicable to both the analog and digital processes, various photographic techniques are presented and illustrated. Interrelating the text and images offers a kind of instructional dialog that I explored through my extensive classroom and field experience,” said Dzerigian. “Above all, my intent is that the book brings attention to how we may approach ‘seeing’ aesthetically and philosophically in order to nurture the spirit of living, as well as, to effectively share with or inform the public through our observations and discoveries.”

Steve Dzerigian, Portrait by Michael Karibian
Steve Dzerigian, Portrait by Michael Karibian

Steve Dzerigian migrated from philosophy and film studies at U.C.L.A, to still photography. Photographing at every opportunity and later teaching it became his life’s work. An ardent student of ancient and contemporary human endeavors, as well as the natural world, he photographs most often throughout the American Southwest and Central America. Devoted to facilitating art and education in Central California for the last 45 years, he has served as curator, juror, and consultant for many exhibitions, competitions, and media events, in addition to teaching photography full-time at Fresno City College for 21 of those years. In 1979, he expanded the idea of a photography gallery in Fresno by gathering together charter members to create Spectrum Art Gallery, a non-profit, cooperative which provides valuable services to the community. He also was a founding member of Corridor 2122, an interdisciplinary art studio and gallery.

Through a multitude of one-person and group shows, Steve Dzerigian’s works have been exhibited throughout the United States. His work has been seen in “LensWork Quarterly”, “Black & White” Magazine, “Color” Magazine, “Photography” by London, Stone, & Upton, and “Exploring Color Photography” by Robert Hirsch.

Trail of Stones: My Path in Photography” is published by The Press at California State University, Fresno.

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