Photo by Seth Combs
Michael Field had a dream when he was a young boy. That dream, however, had nothing to do with being an artist.
"I have zero motivation to be an art star. I just want to do my thing," says Field in his office at the San Diego Natural History Museum where he works as the lead exhibits designer. He says this after nearly an hour tour of the museum in which you can see his work all over the place. Whether he's talking about mesa and canyon topography, or the parasite that makes Jerusalem crickets so thirsty, it quickly becomes clear Field is living his dream.
"I used to come in here when I was a boy and bring fossil bones I found," says Field. "And now I work here. It's pretty great."
Still, however much he'd like to dismiss the idea, Field is, indeed, an artist as well. Look no further than Rainmaker , a group show opening at the Central Library on Saturday, Sept. 19 from noon to 2 p.m. The exhibition examines water, drought and climate change through a variety of artistic mediums. For almost half his life, Field has been taking photos of the natural world using everything from "thrift store cameras to big fancy cameras." He specializes in desert landscapes that are stark and otherworldly. With the exception of a photo of a flash flood near the Salton Sea, there's nothing in the photos featured in Rainmaker that scream water. In fact, quite the opposite, but look closer and you'll see what Field sees.
"You can see the shore of where this ancient lake used to be," Field says, clearly excited and pointing out the caves and ridges on the desert rocks that were formed by water hundreds, thousands and millions of years ago. "If you see these caves, they look like the caves you'd see at a beach in La Jolla. The only thing missing is the water and the tourists."
Field has always been an avid camper and feels a particular fondness for the desert. And his photos have been used by State and National Park services, as well as a U.N. report on the state of the world's deserts. When asked if he has an agenda with his pictures or a message that heíd like people to walk away with, his response is both pragmatic and, yes, artistic.
"I want people to look deeper with where we're at," says Field. "When I go somewhere, I can look through all the bad freeway exchanges and see that it's an awesome spot...For me, it's just about slowing down and appreciating a little deeper what's here."
Ocotillo Wells, 2005
Island in Ancient Lake Cahuilla, Salton Sea
Shoreline of Ancient Lake Cahuilla, Travertine Point
Dry Lake, Kane Spring