Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes

Words: Steven A. Heller

Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 1
Like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, our lives often play out in unanticipated permutations. We open the box and proceed to turn the pieces over in a methodical and strategic protocol to best achieve success. Locating the straight-edged pieces to form the border, we begin to build the interior design. Separating the pieces according to colors, patterns and shapes gives an informed sense of how the photograph on the cover of the box can most easily be achieved.

But what happens if the photograph on the box has been mistakenly replaced with the image for a different puzzle? How do we proceed to understand the organization we’ve already completed? At what point does entropy, frustration and desperation surface as we realize we’ve lost critical reference points? Do we swipe exasperated arms across the table, tossing everything in the trash bin?

Fine art photographer Carol Erb recognized no necessity for dumping the puzzle; rather, Erb chose to reinvent the cover photograph for the puzzle and proceed with confidence that the pieces will eventually come together successfully.

Erb attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, concentrating on painting and illustration until she
Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 2
Big Old Tree
For almost 20 years Erb worked at a large bank as a financial analyst focused on pension benefit funds.
Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 3
Smithson appreciates Erb
Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 4
Old Church
Reckoning is a provocative title for the series represented here; the definitions and grammatical implications of the word offer a wide range of interpretations. Erb states definitively that it is a biblical reference. Furthermore, the images in the series relate directly to the political environment following the 2016 presidential elections. Though Erb does not consider herself a
Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 5
A glorious full moon reflects on the surface of a natural disaster in
Photo: Carol Erb: Uneasy Landscapes photo no. 6
Created from an impressive archive of digital photographs captured over just the past few years (stock image files are not engaged in the final imagery), Erb sets out to explore journalistic commentary and editorial illustrations within the expansive freedom of the digital darkroom.

In contrast and relief to atmospheric images of disaster and threat, Erb concurrently threads peaceful, almost tranquil scenes.
Erb returns to posing questions in
See more Erb’s Reckoning series, as well as her other projects, at