Finding The Abstract In The Sky: Photographer/Pilot Goes Exploring

Feb 2, 2017

Photographer Scott Rankin has for years been pursuing the mercurial beauty of the sky, snapping tens of thousands of still images.  A select group of those photos, plus video, are currently on display a the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington.

Thin Deep Ribbon - photography of the sky is currently on view in the Armstrong Gallery at the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington.  A professor of art at Illinois State University, Rankin has made a special study of the sky, photographing from the ground up or heading up in a plane for a closer view of his subject.

"The sky has always interested me," said Rankin, who is a pilot, as well. "Extraordinary things happen in the sky, especially in the Midwest.  Things happen very quickly.  I always have my camera with me." 

"They're architectural," said curator Claire Hedden of the magnificent towering and moody clouds in Rankin's photos. "There's landscapes, there's figures.  There's a little bit of everything."

The viewer can easily project on to these photos, seeing many things. "Sometimes it looks very deep, sometimes it looks totally flat," said Rankin. "Sometimes it's both at the same time.  And that's always fascinated me.  On some level, these are not pictures of clouds.  They literally are, but they're more fields of color and fields of shape.  And in that way, they're abstractions."