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Bill McDowell’s photographs of galaxies and night skies, constructed entirely from ashes, create a tangible connection to notions of death and what lies beyond our atmosphere.

Photographer Bill McDowell remarks about his series “Ashes in the Night Sky,” “Initially I was driven by the desire to make images in the shadow of my father’s death and to take creative advantage of the emotional jolt his absence caused. Over time my relationship to the ashes broadened and they triggered thoughts about our collective response to death, as well as my own aging and inevitable demise.” We talk below about funerals, art, and kitchen appliances, of course.

Bill McDowell is a recipient of the 2008 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography, and the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship. Bill’s selected solo exhibitions include Jan Kesner Gallery, in Los Angeles, Houston Center of Photography, and the Robert B. Menschel Gallery at Syracuse University. His work is represented in collections such as the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Deichtorhallen Museum, in Hamburg, Germany, and Light Work.

All images used with permission. All images © copyright the artist, all rights reserved.

TMN:

In photography, do you consider anything holy?

Bill McDowell:

Beautiful accidents.

TMN:

Anything sacrilegious?

Bill McDowell:

Unknowing self-indulgence.

TMN:

Have you imagined your own funeral?

Bill McDowell:

“What a great guy he was…”

TMN:

What’s your favorite camera at the moment?

Bill McDowell:

Pentax 6X7.

TMN:

Favorite household appliance?

Bill McDowell:

Garlic press.

TMN:

Do you nap?

Bill McDowell:

Yup.

TMN:

Do you listen to anything while you work?

Bill McDowell:

Usually not.

TMN:

What’s a fact about the universe that you find astonishing?

Bill McDowell:

That I forget about it on a daily basis.

TMN:

What good are horoscopes?

Bill McDowell:

They can be good reminders.

TMN:

When was the last time you cringed?

Bill McDowell:

Watching some drunk middle-aged couples dance in a bar last Saturday night. Coulda been me.

TMN:

Thoughts on the relationship between art and science in six words or less?

Bill McDowell:

They both embrace doubt and uncertainty.

TMN:

Pool or lake?

Bill McDowell:

Lake.

TMN:

Beer or liquor?

Bill McDowell:

Beer.

TMN:

Why make art at all?

Bill McDowell:

We all need to get the corks out of our asses.

biopic

Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of You Lost Me There and Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. His new novel is The Last Kid Left. More information can be found at his website. More by Rosecrans Baldwin