Salton Sea at SVA Galleries
Cannery Suite 112
Johnnie Chatman – Salton Sea
Artist Reception May 7th, 5:30-7:30pm
The Salton Sea stands as a powerful testament to the results of inadequate planning, created when poorly engineered irrigation canals failed, depositing the entire volume of the Colorado River into a dry lake depression for two years. Johnnie Chatman’s photo series “Salton Sea” examines the stark remains of a century’s worth of neglect and careless abuse of the natural environment. Once a popular resort destination, increased pollution and agricultural runoff fouled the water to the point at which entire fish populations died on the beaches, creating intolerable stink and spawning hordes of flies. People fled and the tourist economy collapsed, leaving the abandoned landscape to slowly decay over the following decades.
“As an explorer to a new world” says Chatman, “I sought to re-imagine and provide a narrator for the unwritten story of those that lived there, traveling the terrain’s many crevices in order to get a better understanding and grasp on the impact man had on this place in the world.” Amid the detritus and decay, Chatman highlights the poignant juxtaposition of the vast unnatural body of water, the largest lake in California, incongruously lying at the center of a lowland desert. At the same time, he captures the elusive beauty of nature that endures in the face of all adversity, the quiet calm that survives in the wake of destruction.
24 year old photographer Johnnie Chatman grew up in the southern California suburb of Claremont and began taking art classes with local fine artist Elizabeth Preston. At Chaffey University he discovered photography as fine art, and transferred to Academy of Art University, where he is currently working towards his BFA in Photography. His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications, including a solo exhibition at the Claremont Forum in 2014.
For more details on the exhibition, please click here.