Dumpsters. Paper shredders. Huge mirrors. Not your typical artistic inspirations. But Charles Shotwell is not your typical fine art and commercial photographer.
In the process of exploring an idea, I typically bump into something great. My philosophy is built on what things look like when they’re photographed. I let the camera do what it does best. Sometimes I don’t have a clue what I’m going to get until I look at the photo. My camera is a vehicle of discovery.
My work has evolved into a series of series. Lynn, my business and life partner, was shredding documents and thought the output was interesting. I saw it and went crazy. I shredded for two weeks straight. It transformed words, colors, shapes and images into new metaphors.
Anything can become art, even a fashion magazine I found in a dumpster. I took it to my studio and soaked it. It took three weeks to dry and the outcome was an otherworldly exchange of inks. We recently featured that medium in a booklet on the Dumpster series.
My studio is in a three-story coach house in our backyard. Between the two buildings we’ve created a little oasis filled with trees. It’s a wonderful respite. We’re in the heart of Chicago, but it feels like ‘the secret garden’.