The naked body is often seen as our purest, most natural form -- after all, Adam and Eve frolicked around in nature before God gave them a leaf and made them hide. Artists love revisiting this common theme -- man and nature =- and for many of them, there is little more beautiful than flesh.
Delray Beach photographer Brian Cattelle believes that there is beauty in combining bare bodies with man-made decay, which is why he has set out on a photography project that places nude models in derelict surroundings.
With Bare USA, Cattelle hopes to take his vision outside of Florida and photograph a model in an abandoned locale all across the 50 states.
Cattelle sees Bare USA as an artistic parallel of his own life. Less than five years ago, he was a struggling alcoholic and drug addict, describing his life as chaotic and his personal state as seemingly hopeless. Once he realized where his life was heading and accepted help from those around him, Cattelle got sober and sought refuge in photography.
Using his roommate's Canon Rebel Ti, he "started shooting anything and everything [he] found interesting." He goes on to describe the moment as transformative, saying, "Armed with a camera, I had a reason to challenge my fears, to go to places and talk with people I normally wouldn't have - photography was my new drug, my new love, and I got hooked."
"Artistically, I love creating any photography that contains a strong contrast - I find it far more interesting to look at," he says, which explains the foundation for his Bare USA project.
The contrast between the black and white images, as well as the lovely models surrounded by ruin, is a reflection of Cattelle's own life, he explains. "In the photos, you find an oasis of beauty among the chaos and destruction. That was all my life was: chaos and destruction. But if you look closely, there is a glimmer of hope, peace, and serenity."
Cattelle has been shooting in Florida for a few months now, but for him, this was always just the "testing ground" where he could prove himself and prove that the project was worth pursuing. "The full realization of the project is to shoot in one abandoned location in each of the 50 states, and eventually publish a photo book with each of the images."
So far in South Florida, Cattelle has photographed in the Miami Marine Stadium in Key Biscayne, the Nike Missile Base along Krome Avenue, the Aerojet-Dade Rocket Facility in Homestead, and the old RC Cola Factory in Wynwood.
His next stop: "to explore the whole country, no matter what."
Using IndieGoGo, Cattelle hopes to raise $40,000 to support his explorations. The money will go towards paying for his cross-country travels, paying the models for their work, any permits he might have to secure, and so on. "Regardless of the amount of money I raise," he exclaims, "I'm hitting the road by the first of July. I don't care if I end up broke in the middle of South Dakota struggling to figure out how to get enough gas to make it, I'm going for it."
Florida is checked off his list, and his plans are to tackle the Southern states next, then up to North Dakota, then to Maine and back down to Florida for a breather before heading to the west coast.
"If Bare USA is a success, I hope to continue with Bare Europe, Bare South America and more. I think I'm on to something here and I intend on taking this project as far as I can."
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"I want to bring new life to these abandoned places, even if only for a few moments, those moments will be forever frozen it time. I want to show people the hidden treasures we have all over this country. I want to evoke the spirit of adventure, exploration, personal expression and freedom, inspiring others to go out and do what they love."
"Most importantly," he says, "I wanted to create something beautiful by looking in the most unexpected of places."
You can help Cattelle carry this project along by donating to his IndieGoGo campaign at igg.me/at/bareusa. The campaign fundraising period ends on June 14th.