Assistant Professor of Photography
As a child, Jim Pendergast was blessed to grow up in Yosemite National Park. He and his brothers fully explored Yosemite, as only kids can, with both their bodies and imaginations - it was a place and time without boundaries. In the high country of Yosemite he soaked in a landscape that John Muir described as, "seemingly not clothed with light, but wholly composed of it." Over the years that light has lived in Jim to illuminate, with a sense of wonder and joy, the human and natural landscapes that surround him. Yosemite was the foundation for his photography.
For most of his twenties and early thirties Jim was an outdoor play bum: he lived to backpack, rockclimb and kayak. However, one cannot play forever! So, he decided to go to college. Jim’s undergraduate degree, from Humboldt State, was in Natural Resource Planning - a program that combined science, social policy, and environmental law. The real world work from that degree, though, proved to be too bureaucratic, too mind numbingly gray. Determined to regain his world of light, Jim went back to school to pursue a studio art degree in photography at San Jose State University. It was the right decision as he now delights in the challenges and joys of photography: It is work and play together.
As a landscape photographer, Jim's eyes are drawn to places where people have lived and worked but now are abandoned. This pull, to document the abandoned (old mining towns left to the wind; or, a military fort that once had perfect order but is now falling back to earth) is a result of living so deep in nature at an early age. He embraces the sense that all human effort - our dreams, hopes, loves, fears, frustrations, and finally understanding of life - will ultimately fall back to earth. The world and universes is not ours after all; rather, we are theirs.
Jim is currently documenting the partial rehabilitation of Owens Lake in California. At one time Owens Lake was a shallow, saline body of water in the Mojave Desert. Then, that water was diverted to Los Angeles leaving a dry, toxic lakebed behind. Now, as areas of the historic lakebed are flooded with water again a small miracle is happening: life is returning. This life, however, is first experienced in color: bold, clean and bright. Jim hopes his work will be a positive affirmation that the natural world which human activities have fundamentally altered and decimated can be reclaimed by nature - that life can be reborn.