Rejected unripe tomatoes dumped back on fields, north central Ohio, 1990

Alex MacLean

Air Lines, Photographs by Alex MacLean

On view May 14, 2005 to April 23, 2006

Located in the: Special Exhibition Galleries

For over 25 years, photographer Alex MacLean has flown his Cessna 182 over the continental United States and Europe documenting the landscape below and simultaneously creating images that are themselves works of art. The linear patterns of roads, subdivisions, farmland--even parking lots and playgrounds--that are captured in these photographs reveal evolving attitudes about our relationship to the land. The Peabody Essex Museum shows a breathtaking selection of MacLean’s photographs in an exhibition titled Air Lines: Photographs by Alex MacLean. The exhibition runs through April 23, 2006.

A field of discarded tomatoes becomes art in MacLean’s expansive view of the land. Many of his images have the tactile appeal of textile art. Others suggest a hard-edge minimalism. And still others convey a more painterly quality, as if he has laid pigment on a canvas.

MacLean’s photographs tell the story of the American landscape and of the people who interact with it. The linear patterns in the images selected for Air Lines remind us of the continuing role of technology in shaping our lives and our land. They also remind us that human nature leaves indelible marks. In these grids, stripes, bars, and networks are irrefutable evidence of waste and materialism; as well as ingenuity, perseverance, and optimism.



Further Reading