Residual Images: 24 Works on Paper Artist Marcus Kesler

September 23, 2013

24 Works on Paper
Marcus Kesler, Edmond, Self Service, Photography, 16” x 24”

Marcus Kesler, Edmond, Self Service, Photography, 16” x 24”

Photographer Marcus Kesler gives a perspective of Oklahoma agriculture in Self Service. This photograph is from a series that Kesler said “explores the agricultural roots of Oklahoma and the struggles faced by Oklahoma farmers.”

Kesler captured the image with long exposures and painting with light. He focused on the equipment that the farmers used and the land, hoping to draw attention to the relationship between the earth and farmers themselves.  

You’ve expressed your knowledge and support for Oklahoma agriculture. Could you elaborate on why you represented that in this series? Do you have a personal connection to Oklahoma agriculture?

Agriculture is an integral part of the Oklahoma economy and is deeply rooted in our history. It is represented in our state seal, our state motto and throughout popular culture. Many people who have never been to our state ‘know’ that we are an agricultural state after watching “Oklahoma!” I feel that the connection between the people and the land is a powerful symbol of the struggles that both have endured throughout the history of our state and I hope to capture that connection in this series.The impact that agriculture has on our state is easily visible by driving across our highways and byways and looking at the fields and towns impacted by it. We can see remains of farms and towns that became victims of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and now we can see farms and towns that are still struggling with the Great Recession and the drought that we faced over the last few years. Documenting these struggles, and with the resiliency of the people of Oklahoma in the face of adversity, is the goal of this series. The people have broken the soil, and at times the soil has broken the people.

What inspired you to alter the colors in this piece? Was there a reason why you chose the particular colors?

The colors I use to expose my photographs depend on what I am feeling while I am on location. I try to spend some time just walking around and exploring the scene to get an understanding of the emotions that are present. I try to form a dialog of what might have happened here in the past and what might have caused people to abandon or neglect an area. Some locations have a feeling of sadness and tragedy, while others have a sense of happiness remaining even though people have moved on long ago. At other times I try to use colors to fill a void that has been left behind by the people that have moved on.In this particular piece I tried to highlight the symbols of the work done by this family, relying on their machinery to work the fields and using their own skills to maintain the equipment that would help them work the earth. I chose orange as a brighter color because it felt like this garage belonged to somebody that enjoyed and took pride in their work. 

Interview by Jessika Davis, OVAC Intern

This artwork is featured in the 24 Works on Paper exhibition touring Oklahoma through December 2014. See venues and more information at