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Keeping Track
Photo by Bill Denison

Laura Vernon-Russell sees beauty in what's left behind — the tracks of an osprey in the sand, the ripples of mud made by a river's current, the circular pattern that gusts of wind shape into a thicket of long grass.

Every weekend for the past three years, Vernon-Russell has made the 20-minute drive from her home near Baltimore's Patterson Park to North Point State Park in Edgemere to walk along the shoreline, photographing tracks made by water, wind, and wildlife.

"I'm interested in the composition and line as well as creating a record of what I've seen," says Vernon-Russell, who trained as a painter at Maryland Institute College of Art and works as an executive secretary at Hopkins' Institute for Policy Studies. "The thrill besides my time in nature is the darkroom experience or time in my studio manipulating the images and the challenge and hope of creating an image that moves me."

Vernon-Russell made her living as a jewelry designer for 18 years after graduating from art school. She got into photography after her son, Micah, was born nine years ago. She branched out from baby portraits to documenting the crows in Patterson Park. Last year, she won a $6,000 individual artist award from the Maryland State Arts Council.

She hopes to show her track series in a gallery show this spring. Perhaps the images might also be featured in a book one day. In the meantime, she'll be taking pictures, documenting life on a small part of the Chesapeake Bay. "Secretly I hope that if I show how really wonderful these things are, somebody won't want them to disappear," she says. — Maria Blackburn

Return to November 2004 Table of Contents

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