Lunar Landscapes : Project Statement by Catherine Slye

Featured on New Landscape Photography, June 2018.

The idea for the series Lunar Landscapes came about on an impromptu photoshoot at Dreamy Draw Park for the Super Moon full moon on 12/02/17.  The series came together in my mind while waiting on the moon to crest the mountain - each month for each full moon, a different park, in Arizona.The goal, to photograph the landscape, to catch the full moon cresting the horizon, so I could do what I love to do, be outside at night shooting long exposures. But, not just anywhere. Here, in Arizona, in the desert with the rocks and cacti

Dreamy Draw, 12/02/17

Dreamy Draw, 12/02/17

In 2015 I shot HOT SUMMER NIGHTS, all long exposures at night of urban landscapes - all in Phoenix. In 2016 was Night Water, again, all long exposures at night, of the canal system here in the city - then in 2017 I only worked on Nightlight - a self-portrait project, shot indoors, again long exposures done at night, but indoors. I missed shooting at night outdoors enormously. I was so ready to get back outside again. I can’t quite put my finger on it, to say it’s beautiful here is an understatement, it’s quite striking. When I’m outside at night I’m not experiencing some kind of metaphysical out of body mind meld magic - maybe I am!  ;) What I know for certain is that the combination of the light and the color and the heat feels magical*. I so wanted to get back to doing what I had done before - long exposures at night, but this time in the desert. Away from the urban core and the artificial lights. And be among the cacti and the creosote bushes and the sage and the rocks - under the moonlight.

Each month I scout out a new location, typically a park, although one month I shot at a private residence (see How I Got the Shot : Women's Guide BTS post)  The time frame of the shoot is very narrow - it’s one night, once a month, within in a matter of minutes as the moon is rising. And then it’s over - until the next month. 12 months, 12 outings. Narrowly defined parameters is something I consciously imbue into each of my projects. Setting my own “rules” for each series builds pressure which helps me clearly and purposefully create. Precisely defined boundaries - where ambiguation is absent, is inherent I feel, not only in how I prefer to live, but in my photography itself. Even in the murky darkness of my work, there is little that is not clearly what it makes itself to be.

View series images here.

*feels magical; the feeling of being hyperaware of myself and my surroundings; colors appear brighter, shadows darker, sounds sharper. I feel intricately engrossed in the moment and I see beauty everywhere. I feel alive.

Nightlight : Project Statement by Catherine Slye

My self-portrait project, Nightlight, is a series of long-exposure photographs created in 40 different homes.  From February - October, 2017 I traveled to 40 different homes in Phoenix and surrounding towns; Bisbee, Prescott, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Goodyear, Chandler, and Payson. My series of images are made upon first waking in the murky blue darkness an hour before dawn in 40 guest bedrooms.

Self-portraiture can be a solo endeavor, with a long history as a reflective practice for the artist through which they question, explore, and deepen their personal relationship with their creative processes. With Nightlight, I wanted to question and explore through the lens of community. My mobile phone is the sole source of artificial light, the “nightlight.” The resulting self-portrait images contain ghostly double-exposures, transparent shadows, and slept-in beds. I am seen “as-is” - revealing an acceptance of time, place and self. The room is not staged; I am not coiffed nor dressed for the camera. These images are personal, yet the project is public.This paradox, a yin-yang or introvert/extrovert undercurrent entices me.


Searching for and scheduling 40 hosted sleep-overs in 40 different locations, with 40 different families invites/encourages/coaxes me and the host(s) into a deeper reflection and exploration of my art and artistic expression. Through the ordinariness of the sleep-over occasion, together we can then experience the graciousness of shared time, space and human connection. We can build community and experience fellowship.

I set the number to 40 for three reasons; 1. to be able to reach my goal within in one year (2017), 2. to ensure I would create a large enough volume of images and 3. To be able to meet and stay with people outside of my immediate friends and family circle.

Exhibition Plan

  1. 10-12 photographs printed and mounted - 34” x 40” Digital C Prints, see images in DropBox, images are titled by the date they were made. Images are shown as they will be printed.

  2. A diorama; a 1:12 scale replica of image #6894

  3. My behind-the-scenes materials digitized and accessible for visitors on an iPad including;

    1. Additional Nightlight images - over 1200 images were made

    2. Project notes with drawings, diagrams and plans.

    3. Tiny time-lapse videos showing the making of the diorama.

    4. Short audio clips - featuring my “after effects” - short narratives describing how the project impacted me emotionally and psychologically.  

The photographs, diorama and behind-the-scenes materials offer viewers three distinctive mediums to connect with. Paradoxes await the viewer of the show too because the images are revealing and concealing at the same time focusing on a time of day when who we are is not yet fully put together, packaged, and polished.


Each viewer can step into these images as their experiences of predawn are reflected for them. Their worries, their aspirations, their success, and their failures merge with mine as they experience this project.

I successfully launched and fulfilled a Kickstarter campaign, fulfilled 100% on 10/27/17 - funds raised are earmarked to produce an exhibition of this project.

Night Water : Project Statement by Catherine Slye

Phoenix appears harsh and intense under the bright daylight sun, yet beautiful and even magical at night when color becomes palatable, sultry and saturated. From dusk to deep night is a time when color reveals itself as tangible. I wanted to capture this heady mix while giving center stage to the Phoenix canals. There are nine canal systems in the Valley, my series Night Water is from large portions of three of those systems. Images submitted are from the Arizona Canal and the Grand Canal. Photographed between February - November, 2016.

Some people have noted that the series is redolent of John Atkinson Grimshaw’s paintings of the Thames at night. Some have characterized his work as gloomy but others feel that capturing the special light at dusk is anything but gloomy because in many ways, it allows us to see more clearly what was there all along. Paradoxically, it illuminates - while the searing sun rays earlier in the day obscure.

For more info on the canals visit - by no means is this an exhaustive list:

Arizona Canal

Arizona Canal

Grand Canal

Grand Canal

Western Canal

Western Canal

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS : Project Statement by Catherine Slye


See Phoenix through loving eyes. . . . at night.
As night descends, the city is bathed in rich, saturated, vibrant color. Blues and purples wash the urban environment, juxtaposing the naturally occurring with the human made. What better time to photograph Phoenix in the Summer, than at night.

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS is a collaborative photographic project. Jared’s images were created with a large-format camera whose design is rooted in the mid-19th century. His series is shot entirely on transparency film with a low rating of ISO 10. Each image required between 8 and 45 minutes of exposure. Catherine’s images are purely digital, blending the immediacy that using digital offers with the ability to photograph manually. Marshall provided the accompanying historical context. All three; Jared, Catherine and Marshall are Arizona transplants who love to call Phoenix their home.

HOT SUMMER NIGHTS debuted at Chartreuse Gallery, 1301 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, September 4 - 30, 2015. Check out the following press:  Chartreuse gallery adds a splash of color to Grand Avenue's expanding arts scene , Downtown Devil15 FAVORITE FIRST FRIDAY ART WORKS SEEN IN SEPTEMBER IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIXNew TimesChartreuse Gallery Opens with ‘Hot Summer Nights’Downtown Phoenix Journal

You may view the 11x17 works by Jared Elizares and I, as well as accompanying texts by Marshall Shore, in the Hot Summer Nights Catalogue, PDF.  View Gallery of images.

What Food Looks Like : Project Statement by Catherine Slye


In January, 2015 I started a project I named “What Food Looks Like”. I am photographing food, food access, food insecurity and food deserts in the form of urban community gardens, farmers and farms, neighborhoods, people and organizations here in the Phoenix metro area. 

Within the first four months I had visited 25 places, including; Mesa Urban Garden, The Urban Garden, The Micro Farm Project, Growhouse, Gilbert Farmer’s Market, Recycled City Compost, Arizona Microgreens, The Orchard Community Learning Center, PHX Renews, Garfield Community Garden, Hayden Flour Mills, Hope House Farms, St. Mary’s Foodbank, The Simple Farm, St. Vincent de Paul, Neighborhood Ministries Foodbank. I walked and photographed the eight neighborhoods of Central City South identified in a 2011 study completed by the ASU School of Sustainability in conjunction with the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation’s study on food access.

Selected image included in the JEG Photography Exhibition Feb 15 - Marech 9, 2016, Texas Woman's University. 

Contact me if you would like to discuss my project or you want to use my images for your organization, business or personal use. All images are Copyright 2016, Catherine Slye.