Prospect Park stretches across 585 acres at the heart of Brooklyn, New York. Designed by Frederick Olmsted in 1867 as one of America’s first democratic parks, it was envisioned as a space for citizens of every social class and background. My ongoing series In Plain Air is photographed from deep within the park, where signs of the city and its thankless daily grind are farthest out of sight. These photographs look at an urban oasis that invites its visitors to a profound, however brief, commune with nature and a momentary release from the demands of contemporary life that’s teeming at the gates. I am drawn to private moments of transcendence and escape within the context of a shared public space. This is an imperfect nature, tattered from overuse, and yet it is a landscape activated by collective reverie and desire. As the light reflects from the lake, the surroundings are instantaneously transformed to echo distant places, disorienting and beguiling, transporting one to a powerful landscape of the mind.
I see Prospect Park as a kind of gritty paradise where fundamental American ideals have materialized but appear like a mirage: a complex social reality played out upon a shared, historic stage that is illusory, and even fantastical (like any vision of paradise). As American esteem and spirit are put to a test, the images in this series hope to contemplate and reaffirm our sense of a common, living place and time.