At the time the pictures were taken for the cover of Subliminal Listening, I was just discovering the ease of digital photography: the ability to see the picture immediately after taking it and, in most cases, being able to re-shoot the subject to capture that “perfect shot”. This, for me, was the birth of my photo creativity. I was taking pictures whenever I could find the time, wherever I could find subject matter.
One day, at lunchtime, having photographed nearly everything within sight of my car, I began to think of places and things to plan to capture photographically. I had been passing an abandoned office building every day on my morning commute. It dawned on me that that abandoned building might be a great place to go for a lunch time “Photo Safari”.
The very next morning, my thoughts were consumed with the prospect of exploring the abandoned Hooker Chemicals Corporation office building. At lunchtime I began the journey of a lifetime. As I approached the thruway exit I had no way of knowing just how powerful an experience I was about to have.
As I left the highway, the exit made a disorienting 180-degree turn. As it straightened out, all around me were fields of tall grass and wildflowers, sunburnt and golden from long summer days. Then, suddenly, on the horizon, a speck of green glowing in the midday sun. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I needed to get closer to that beautiful green object that that was beginning to fill my view.
As I got closer to the object, I was taken by the size and beauty of its patina. I was lost in the wonder of the history of this wonderful object. The unnamed sculpture bore witness to the importance and wealth that once were.
I spent all of my lunch hour that day and many days after that taking pictures of the sculpture and dreaming the stories of its past.
I only took a few shots of the building itself; the beauty lies solely in its sculpture.
One day, just a few months later, while visiting the sculpture that had become my muse, I was appalled to discover that there were pieces missing from the back section. Someone with much less reverence for the sculpture than I had decided that they were entitled to destroy the monument and, presumably, sell it off for scrap. Thankfully the front section remains. I believe that the front section of the sculpture served as cover for the scum-sucking thieves.
Kevin’s photo album of the Hooker Sculpture.
Grand Island E-News reference to the sculpture. It’s near the bottom of a very long page. Search for “Nathan Cook Photo”.
Smithsonian Institute reference. The Smithsonian had no record of this piece until Kevin contacted them.