EMMA LEIGH DANIELS

PHOTOGRAPHY

Artist Statements

Walk into the Wilderness
This body of work’s goal is to make the viewer feel as though they have walked through the wilderness. Spending the day in the wilderness, distances you from the busy modern life. Slowly, trees start to form letters, rocks form shapes, leaves have a whole new texture. Nature comes to life under the sunlight that eliminates the wooded area. Slowly, the natural wonder and fascination we all had as children come back. Life problems seem less daunting and stress is alleviated.  Hopefully, you'll leave this body of work as refreshed as though you've just left a forest.
Thin
I have noticed that in America, when Viet Nam is mentioned, many minds immediately associate the country to war and communism. After speaking to people about my travels to Viet Nam, a lot questions asked went along the lines of; “Were they nice to you? Don’t they hate Americans? Was everyone communist? Weren’t you scared?” Questions like these made me realize how narrow minded Americans can be.  The war was at least a generation ago, life goes on. It’s time we look past the myths of yesterday and see Viet Nam for what it is today; a unique new country filled with humans just like us.  This series is black and white digital photography cropped into thin, narrow frames. These images are “thin” to resemble the narrow mind of some who view Vietnam. This body of work aims to show that Vietnam today can take those views and change them. My hope is that these images educate people on how similar the Vietnamese are to Americans yet also remind how changed, vibrant, unique and strong Vietnam as a country truly is. ​
Viet Nam's Perfect Imperfections
Traveling to a "communist" country, I was afraid that as a “tourist” I would only be privy to the best while the worst would be hidden from the experience. Even though I was correct, I kept looking for the imperfections. It wasn’t until I roamed the land at night that I noticed that struggles they hide are no different than those America choses to hide. Through this series, I attempted to show their struggles all while keeping the natural beauty of the land and culture intact.
--I watched the sun set over Ha Long Bay, a natural wonder. I watched as cruise ships, including mine, plague the waters with fuel emissions, commercialism, tourists, and trash; pollution.
While searching in public parks, restaurants and stores, throughout markets and museums I saw at most four trashcans. Though, stumbling upon a trash cart in the street like an American trash truck, gave me hope that people in Viet Nam were attempting to be more environmentally friendly than they publically showed.
 A peacefully meditating woman sits along a busy intersection on a sidewalk that is also used as a road. After passing this woman multiple times on three different days, it was safe to assume she was homeless. Amongst the disarray, she sat still seeming content and peaceful and that is beautiful and strong.
A man cleans off his exotic beautifully arranged Buddhist shrine. He haphazardly throws the rotten food into the street where he proceeded to light it on fire and walk away.
During a Buddhist celebration in Hoi An, I stood on a bridge looking over a vibrant scene of paper lanterns, people, parties, rowboats, bright lights, and illuminated lotus flowers floating in the water. Opposite the celebration side of the bridge, it was darker and less populated with fewer lanterns and huge construction machinery. Like the Ha Long Bay sunset, the scene represents tourism and commercialism versus reality.
Under the night sky, the reddish yellow glow of light illuminates Vietnam.  Overall, I found authenticity through imperfections that I found to be beautiful.--
Passages
Traveling to such a new and mysterious land to me was a reminder that there is so much left unknown; so many questions. As an artist, I am always searching for the truth or the bigger picture. With this series, I try to emphasize that face value is not enough to understand the whole story. In a country with so much mystery, my photographs of alleyways, doorways and windows guide the viewer into public, sacred, abandoned or famous locations. Enter any doorway you wish, pass through all the alleyways, peer into every window, for there will always be a mystery.
--I photographed a seemingly endless hallway at the Imperial City in Hue. The vibrant red hall remembers each king, soldier, civilian or child who stepped foot on its floor.  I felt that I would never be able to understand the complex history behind the location. 
A pregnant woman in a small rural village can be seen through a window, possibly sleeping on a table or bed like structure. I do not know who she is or her story, I can only know what I see in this mere instance.
 A man rests down an ally while repairing a building as a woman disappears into an unseen door. In an abandoned aquarium and waterpark, Ho Thuy Tiên, a sunlight yellow staircase leads to the opening of a dragon’s mouth; a lookout. 
A bright blue door lets light into a room that was once filled with aquariums. A sky-blue alleyway is blocked off by a stick of bamboo.--
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