The Paradoxical Beauty of Onondaga Lake

UPDATE: Check out Willson’s blog at

This photo, by Willson Cummer, is of Ninemile Creek in Solvay as it runs under State Fair Boulevard and 690. Cummer, from a canoe, is looking downstream as the creek flows north before entering Onondaga Lake.
Willson Cummer / Onondaga Lake #43, inkjet print, 2010

Some artists help us expand our sense of the possible by deconstructing or altering reality. Others, like Willson Cummer, do something perhaps even more amazing: They show us the reality right in front of us that we’ve somehow failed to see.

Cummer focuses his camera on the places where the man made meets the natural, like the roofs of parking garages and the forgotten places under overpasses, which CNYSpeaks has written about before. He has a knack for at once showing us the enduring beauty of nature and the destructive force of human development. He juxtaposes the beautiful and the ugly, creating images that deepen our understanding of beauty itself.

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