Marsh Gallery

If I Stay
Before I
Images by Torry Brown

June 15 – August 31, 2022

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I've often felt like a body of water taking the shape of its vessel. Living between divorced households and differing cultures, I was compelled to adapt to other perspectives and not see the world for myself. As a result, I've learned how to reduce friction from situations, occupy less space, and lose the overflow there's no room for. From a lifetime of this reality, I developed my own means of navigating the world around me.

My current work is an expression of my excuse to daydream. I began creating definitions of truth by playing with the plasticity of reality – forming a blurred outline of an obscure wonderland. This project became an escape and a way to give myself the freedom to take up space. If I Stay Before I Leave focuses on the imprecision of perceptions, experiences that lead to questions of reality, and asks where images, poetry, and philosophy collide.

I had the idea to try to wander in a subconscious way – making an effort to avoid initiating a decision without being presented with an option. While following these suspicions, I attempted to photograph how something made me feel, rather than exacting what I saw. I started finding delicate splinters of a fragile reality which felt as though they might fracture in my presence. I questioned what it meant that I'd found these pieces teetering between moments, and became interested in a truth that seemed fabricated. I believed that somewhere out there I'd find these orchestrated fragments to fixate on. I was building a suspension of disbelief that wasn't necessary, to make an experience feel more real because of its fictional quality. I looked for the strings leading to nowhere, hoping to find something reverberating with life – pulsing on its own.

My interest in poetry and philosophy started intersecting. To me, images are an approximation of a moment akin to poetry, and like my photography, poetry is a kind of agreement that exactness is an imprecise way of describing an experience. Poets use language as molded material, removing what's unnecessary, manufacturing a feeling to get at what they believe to be so. Poems that best relay perceived experiences are those that feel like they could fall apart, but refuse to. Just as reality, they're messy, only held together by the vessel we provide. The vessels we choose or choose to dismiss may be our philosophy; made of belief, or a suspension of disbelief.

Listening to or deciding to ignore the world helps define the feeling I'm after. In my hometown, the feeling is in the air. It is in the songs of birds, murmurs of trees, and creeks washing the land. It is clenched by the roots in the soil. It is tension that I hope for, supplied by the distance between the world and my perception of it; an uncomfortably familiar lull that hums with me. It's disquieting, and tightens with my presence. I'm beginning to wonder if it loosens in my absence.

—Torry Brown


Torry Brown is an artist whose primary focus has been funneled through photography and image-making, using a camera as a means of exploring the complicated relationship between feeling a part of and apart from a landscape. Themes in his work are centered around emotion and perception; using images to convey the feelings of an experience and emphasize the pliability of memory that inevitably follows those fleeting moments. Unless taking portraits, he works independently, going for walks through urban landscapes, in the woods, or taking a four-wheeler out around his rural hometown. His exploration started this way at a young age, progressing through high school, and coming full circle in college. He is a graduate of the Herron School of Art + Design and will be attending Yale University to join the 2024 cohort in the Master of Fine Arts degree program in Photography at the Yale School of Art.


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