Profile Type: Artist
Wit McKay Studio

Artist’s Statement: The Road Cuts

The Road Cuts are a series of large-scale landscape photographs that I began in early 2015 and continue working on today.  They are a response to the landscape of the Berkshires and Green Mountains from the perspective of my interest in examining the challenge of seeing and the layers of time.

Road cuts are the rock faces exposed by the cutting of a road through a mountain or hill.  They are mundane, generally unseen, or not noticed, passed at high speed in a car.  They are a ubiquitous example of mankind’s violent, via dynamite, alteration of the landscape.  They expose the forceful vestiges of geological time from the perspective of the fleeting present.

The pictures are composed of five individual digital images, composed in the computer.  The separate frames are put together with the goal of creating a coherent composition, not an attempt to mimic reality.  This results in images that are formally quite similar: arcs of rock over a line of road.  When possible I emphasize the continuity of the form by disguising the seams between frames in the sky and the road. This gives the viewer the feeling of a flow, which encourages the eye to scan back and forth, as it does in a speeding car.

The images are presented as very large archival pigment prints, ≈ 220cm.  Scale is integral to the work, as it is to the actual rock faces.  Counter intuitively; as the files are printed larger they open up rather than fall apart. They blossom as they grow, with a strange three-dimensional quality being revealed in the process.

This process mimics my struggle to see, in a fundamental way, worlds that are generally overlooked.  We see these things, if we notice them at all, only in passing.  The view is necessarily a scan, not a stare, like the frames of a film.  The process introduces both repetitions and voids, adding rhythm and complexity to an inherently static subject.  It also allows me to get closer while trying to examine carefully things that are normally difficult to see at all.

The issue of time: geological, historical, the now, the recent, is integral to the work. This is seen in the work as series.  I revisit the same two road cuts at different times of day, in different light and at different times of year.  In addition to underlining the theme of time, this captures a complexity of character in the subject, which is both surprising and satisfying.

My response to the landscape focuses on the intangibles that surround it: light, air, gravity and especially time.  The road is both the time line and, in the extreme foreground, the horizon line, exposing a geology receding into the past and future. In essence I try to find the invisible in the commonplace, the overlooked.  The objective is to create images with a transcendent sense of place: alienated from any particular time but immersed in its essence. For me this is the purpose of art.

Wit McKay





ba Williams College, Williamstown, MA, ’78, Studio Art & European History


bca University of North Carolina at Charlotte, ’81


MFA School of the Art Institute of Chicago, ’83, Art & Technology


Andrew Mellon Foundation Graduate Fellowship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, ‘83


Yaddo Residency, March 2017

Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, January 2018

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Norad Mill #304 60 Roberts Dr.
North Adams, MA 01247
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Visual/Crafts - Photography
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Visual/Crafts - General
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General Public
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Artist (Individual)
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Art Sales
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