2011 Mountainfilm In Telluride: Drew Ludwig, Photographer

Brakes On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, about the time the Gulf oil spill was about to capped, Drew Ludwig decided to take a walk. A long walk. In August 2010, he traveled by foot 120 miles from the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico.

"I went to help. I went to work. I held lofty goals of an activist, and I wanted to use my hands."

And so he did, his hands and his unerring eye, recording images with his camera of people and places encountered along the way. Drew's motivation: break down the idea of "The Other," a complex concept lifted from the social sciences that defines the process by which individuals and groups create distance between themselves and those who do not seem to fit easily and comfortably into their cloistered worlds.

Drew summed up the devastation he witnessed and the proud resolve he experienced in a single artifact that becomes an abiding metaphor for resilience: the glove.

"I walked, I listened and I came to pick up the work gloves of others, rather than my own. I believe gloves connect a hand with purpose, and as I walked, I began to see the story of Louisiana between the marks, the scars and the holes of the discarded gloves along the highway. I became a collector of the found."

The strangers Drew met along the road welcomed him into their homes, fed him after his feet had grown tired.

"These are the faces that came to gaze into my camera. And it was their gloves I carried across the state of Louisiana."

For Drew, artifacts such as the glove bridge the gap between the two-dimensional world of photography and the three-dimensional space of our world. Cross that bridge, and the concept of "The Other" dissolves. The "Not Me" becomes "We."

Drew's latest body of work pumps up the volume of the Gulf, devastated but still standing. The work is at once tender and grave, yet unsentimental. With each image, I felt as though I were being handed a soul. A shining soul.

Drew Ludwig balances the work of a photographer with that of an expedition leader. He guides the highest mountains in the world for Mountain Trip, heli-ski guides in Telluride, CO for Helitrax, while working as a professional fine art and commercial photographer. He is also a speaker for Mountainfilm in Telluride's World Tour.

Drew's work is represented by the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, which also carries the phantasmagorical images of another photographer, the world-famous Jerry Uelsmann. Uelsmann describes Drew as "a fellow visionary."  To find out why, visit the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art during Mountainfilm.

Drew's show opens Friday afternoon, May 27, during Mountainfilm's Gallery Walk.

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