Will Roger Presents Compass of the Ephemeral


 Nevada artist and Burning Man event co-founder Will Roger comes to Sundance to share his latest book, Compass of the Ephemeral.

In Compass of the EphemeralWill Roger photographs the ever changing cityscape and transformation of Black Rock City as it changed throughout the years. The book contains a substantial collection of aerial photos as never seen before.

The desert of North America and beyond is a place of enduring mystery, power, and natural beauty. It is a ruse that this space of earth possesses a kind of blank canvas quality, and man is so often tricked into believing that the desert can be owned, harnessed, conquered, and taken. The winds will show such ambitiousness the truth, through veils of heavy sand--blinding, erasing, wounding, starving, and burying. For its unrelenting power, beauty, and majestic spirit, many artists have come to love, respect, and even fear the desert. This dualistic way of interacting is very much at the core of American artist Will Roger's photographic practice.

Will is a conservationist, creator, and teacher. Having served as Chairman of Sierra Front, North Western Great Basin Resource Advisory Council, and President of the Friends of the Black Rock-High Rock, he is the sort of forward-looking artist and radical thinker you would want to know. His approach has an openness and fearlessness that we could all learn from. So, after encountering his work, it is no surprise that this man is also a cultural co-founder of Burning Man. In all of his work, Will requires of his audience openness to the power and mystery of the natural world, whether it be from a panoramic aerial perspective of the Black Rock Desert, the multi-faceted and intellectually engaging black-and-white photography, or his deeply sensual studies of flowers. There is a playful fluctuation between object, participant, viewer and voyeur.

Will began in analytical chemistry, working as a photo chemist at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Interested in finding new ways to understand the world, he would go on to earn his MFA in photography and serve as an Associate Professor of photography at RIT, working at the prestigious institute for twenty years. There, he created and taught the course, "In Search of the Mystical Image." Today, Will is noted for his creative formal or technical approach, notably a distinctive style of stop-motion photography. Moreover, the artist's work is well respected for a fluency of movement, certain enigmatic lyricism, and a truly esoteric quality that fascinates.

As one develops intellectually and artistically, physical movement is often the impetus for real growth. So, seeking a new space and challenge, in the early 1990s, Will decided to move to California and focus on portraiture. He would eventually become involved in the gathering of risk takers and creativity of Burning Man. The extraordinary freedom would act as catalyst for new and exciting work that seems to exist between two worlds: the surrealist photography of early twentieth century Europe and the Bacchanalian spirit of this world-renowned desert event. As well, the heroic and fantastic allure of the desert would come to be a key motif in the artist's work, including astonishing aerial photographs.

Will's signature in-motion style gives the impression of a dancing world of loveliness, both in the erotic dancer studies and in the flower series. From Will's erotic portraits to his images of underwater ecologies or the grandiose beauty of the desert, one experiences a fullness of form and an emptiness, allowing both balance and intrigue. Will is a creative tour de force whose luxuriously beautiful photos intersect with a sense of the analytical; critics say this is a man who makes his subject dance through light, color, and stop-motion photography. Within this movement, there is a certain freedom to the work, a place where bold color, dramatic landscapes, or charged images of sexuality merge with quiet space.

Will Roger spends his time between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Black Rock Desert region with his partner and muse, Crimson Rose. He has authored two books, Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger and In Search of the Common Shaman, which will be released in 2019.

Event date: 
Thursday, July 11, 2019 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
121 California Ave
Reno, NV 89509
Compass of the Ephemeral: Aerial Photography of Black Rock City through the Lens of Will Roger Cover Image
By Will Roger, Phyllis Needham (Editor), William Fox (Contributions by), Tony “Coyote” Perez-Banuet (Contributions by), Harley Dubois (Introduction by), Alexei Vranich (Contributions by), Crimson Rose (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9780977880652
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Smallworks Press - June 18th, 2019