Flames Against the Dark: Saving America's Sacred Sites uniquely draws together the apparent disparate qualities of our modern age with North America's prehistoric roots. It achieves this unusual synthesis with magically evocative photography of sacred sites. Far more than any documentary style, Lynn Butler's photographs capture the elusive spirit of traditionally holy locales. These include Wisconsin's Black River Fall, with its secret rock art, disclosed to the outside world for the first time since the last Ice Age, some ten thousand years ago.
There are the gaunt ruins of Aztalan, a ceremonial urban center still featuring the world's most northerly pyramids. Nearby, are Rock Lake and Spirit Lake. Across the Wisconsin border with Minnesota at the Mississippi River tower the Saint Paul Mounds, a 2,000-year-old astronomical computer oriented to the Constellation Pleiades. In far off Arizona, Canyon de Chelley was the final refuge of the Anasazi, and still reverberates with the genius energies of this vanished race.
Prehistory collides with contemporary history in California's own version of Shangri-La, where a people are dedicated to upholding their sacred heritage outside Monterey. Because it aimed at preserving the physical existence of a sacred site, their Bless the Eagle Ceremony conducted at Washington, D.C. was the most singular event of its kind.
All these hallowed places and events come alive in the remarkable visuals created by photographer Lynn Butler. Her personal approach to mysterious locations, as obscure as they are spiritually potent, results in originality encountered nowhere else. Many of her images were made while she rode horseback among tribal leaders from the vicinity of the Los Padres National Forest to public forums of our nation's capital and the White House. The editors of Newsweek magazine nominated the photographs as best art photography for the ICP Infinity Awards.
Flames Against the Dark: Saving America's Sacred Sites is inherently appealing to not only students and masters of nature and ethnic photography, but also to a broader audience of readers fascinated by the continent's ancient origins and living legacies, as embodied in North America's sacred sites and native peoples who revere and preserve them.
Lynn H. Butler has had more than forty-five solo exhibitions, including several one-person shows at the Leica Gallery. Her work has appeared in more than 100 group exhibitions around the world. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn; the International Center for Photography, New York City; The Norton Museum, West Palm Beach; Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; the Musee de l'Elysee, Lausanne; the University of Texas, Austin; the Portland Museum of Art, Portland; and the New-York Historical Society Museum, New York City; among others. Butler's work has appeared in such publications as Life, Geo, Aperture, and the New York Times. Her books include A Passage Through the Land of Sleepy Hollow (1988), Coney Island.
Kaleidoscope (1991), Toxic Circles (1993), Imperiled Landscapes, Endangered Legends (1977), and A Plant Once Uprooted (2002). Her photographs were included in "The Meaning of Life," Time Life 1993 and in "Our Town," Aperture 1993. She was nominated by Newsweek as the best art photographer for the ICP Infinity Award, and her grants include one from the Zimmerli Museum of Art for printmaking and another from the Brodsky Innovative Print Center to produce a museum addition. She showed her work and taught at places including the Palm Beach Photo Museum, The Maine Photographic Workshops, and The Boca Museum of Art School. Lynn H. Butler works with slow shutter speeds and various camera movements to document endangered landscapes, animals, and cultures. Many of her landscapes are taken from the backs of moving horses. "Living connections between horse and nature open up for me when I ride into a spiritualized environment," she says. She also photographs while diving the ocean. In many parts of the world, she documents the dying coral reefs and other endangered creatures. Her work is essentially about time and place, textures, colors and ambiguous forms, landscapes and her feelings concerning them. Butler says, "I have had the honor of riding the horses of many tribes while I photographed the endangered landscapes and sacred sites." A native New Yorker, Lynn H. Butler today resides in Thompson Ridge, New York.
"Flames Against the Dark: Saving America's Sacred Sites is not just a collection of photographs, but rather an extension of the soul shown through the eyes of its creator, Lynn Butler. I've had the honor of knowing Lynn for more years than I wish to reveal but suffice to say, her commitment to this project was equally as long, if not longer." - James K. Colton