Running, John: 1946 (USA)

The Artist:

John Running was born in Buffalo, New York in 1946. He moved from New York to New Mexico to attend college, and after interrupting his studies to serve in the US Marine Corps, completed his education there. He now lives in Flagstaff Arizona. Running makes his life and livelihood among the varied cultures in the vast physical beauty of the United States Southwest as a freelance documentary and art photographer.

Running is best known for his work photographing the Navajo people, the largest Native American nation. It is a nation threatened by forced relocation as a result of the Navajo/Hopi land dispute. Originally, photography served Running merely as a documentary tool - an asset to his anthropological studies. "To see, to record, to comment, and to present..." Increasingly, it became and today remains his main a love and livelihood. In addition to still photography, which includes art photography and documentary pictures which appear in textbooks, magazines and calendars, Running produces educational documentary films. Their subjects have included: Spanish and Indian culture in the United States, geology, weather, human behavior and interaction, and cultural evolution.

John Running's credits range from "Time Magazine" to "Communications Arts Magazine", to "Rocky Mountain Magazine". Clients for his art photography and documentary work are located in the United States major photography market's including, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. His varied interests and projects sometimes take him away from the American Southwest, to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador, the West Indies, and Baja California. Projects there are varied, including: documentaries on the daily lives of fishing families, in Trinidad, and an island in the Sea of Cortez - for a book series entitled "Children of the Sea".

In 1979 and 1980 Running's work was featured in the Museum of Northern Arizona. The curator, John F. Stetter wrote about John Running's photography. He said it defies categorization. He acknowledged Running's sensitivity and his ability to portray both an acute sense of the gravity for the loss of human cultures, and an awareness of how the past and present combine to shape the future. " Running is a photographer in the great and difficult tradition of Curtis and Vroman, a tradition that demands not only technical mastery and desire and dedication but that elusive quality T.S. Eliot called the historical sense. Running's pictures are characterized by stunning beauty and uncompromising integrity - a rare blend of human dignity and ethnographic documentation."

Of Running's photographs, their place in the art community, and their record of vanishing cultures and the people affected by the advancement of civilization, Running comments, "... under careful scrutiny a well captured image, or portrait, generally reveals itself to be a visual representation of a deeply felt moment, as rich in psychological and emotional meaning as a personal experience vividly recalled."

The Art:

When John Running photographs portraits, he develops a mutual trust with his subjects. He spends time with his subjects in their environments to create a relaxed mood enabling sitters to "show" themselves to the camera. He is able to dispel the self-consciousness that often accompanies being photographed. Running's subjects bear the unique characteristics of their individual personalities and position in society. Portraits are powerful and sensitive, and demand a viewer's awareness and thought.

Of his art photography Running says, "Although my photographs may be a personal statement of sorts, they tend to be more of a statement about man." Running's art combines the talent of a social anthropologist's perception of cultural flux and change, with an artist's sensitivity to psychological power, aesthetic form, and composition.

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John Running. Navajo Reservation 1975 Adakai. Photograph. 1975. Black Mesa, Arizona. (Nikon F,105mm f/2.5Nikkor, 1/25 at 1/4 on Kodachrome 64 film.) The paper size is 20" x 16". The photograph was acquired in 1985. In November 2001 Running wrote in response to my questions about this picture. "Adakai was an old Navajo man - he was in his 90's when I made the photo back in 1975. He and his wife had 12 children. They had 60 grand children and over 200 great grand children - and great great grand children. Adakai lived south of Black Mesa, at the head of the Denibito Wash, on the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. Each year I am still contacted by decedents of Adaki. It is nice. It is also surprising to me that his people still remember that photo." The photograph is in pristine condition. Close-Up


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