David Maisel’s large-scaled, otherworldly photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention, piecing together the fractured logic that informs them both.
Maisel's aerial images of environmentally impacted sites explore the aesthetics and politics of open pit mines, clear-cut forests, and zones of water reclamation, framing the issues of contemporary landscape with equal measures of documentation and metaphor. As Leah Ollman states in the Los Angeles Times, "Maisel’s work over the past two decades has argued for an expanded definition of beauty, one that bypasses glamour to encompass the damaged, the transmuted, the decomposed."
Library of Dust depicts copper canisters containing the cremated remains of patients from a psychiatric institution. Vibrant minerals bloom on the urns' surfaces, as the copper reacts with the ashes held within. The New York Times Library of Dust monograph "a fevered meditation on memory, loss, and the uncanny monuments we sometimes recover about what has gone before."
David Maisel was born in New York City in 1961. He received his BA from Princeton University, and his MFA from California College of the Arts, in addition to study at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Maisel was a Scholar in Residence at the Getty Research Institute in 2007 and an Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in 2008. He has also been the recipient of an Individual Artist’s Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was short-listed for the Prix Pictet in 2008. Maisel lives and works in the San Francisco area, where he has been based since 1993.
Maisel's photographs, multi-media projects, and public installations have been exhibited internationally, and are included in many permanent collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among others. His work has been the subject of three monographs: The Lake Project (Nazraeli Press, 2004), Oblivion (Nazraeli Press, 2006), and Library of Dust (Chronicle Books, 2008).