John Longbow has always been interested in building and creating since he was young. His father was a construction worker and Longbow was inspired from him to work with his hands. He works with different forms of art. His main trade has been building guitars for the past 20 years. Longbow has been given the opportunity to tour with his music. During these tours, he performs as well as working with troubled communities. These tours provide a lot of networking opportunities and teachable moments through music.
Longbow stumbled into photography when he received a manipulative photography catalog. He uses both found photography and his own images in his work. “People say that pictures can say a thousand words but you can also share the spirit of the picture.” In order to find the spirit, Longbow uses bilateral symmetry. This means that he takes the image and then creates a mirror image. Sometimes he will layer the image over and over again. His subject matter is mainly current events. Longbow views this approach to photography as a different way of seeing.
“A lot indigenous cultures believe that everything is sacred. I am finding that it does occur and I can see the face that is in there.” Longbow is working with a group of individuals who are researching the Aztec Codex. They are studying their interpretations and how they used to talk to one another. These individuals are hoping to create a contemporary perspective to interpret both the Aztec and Myan Codex. Longbow chose creating totems (the spiritual significance in an object) in his photographs as his method of interpretation. He once went to visit an old medicine man, over the age of 100. Medicine men have an ancient way of looking at the world around them. Longbow shared his photography and at the end of the long discussion, the medicine man stated, “You know how to see.”
One of the biggest challenges that Longbow has faced as an artist is working with controversial subject matter. Living in New Mexico, he has discovered that the Southwest region is more hesitant to view and talk about his work than any other region in the United States. The Southwest is having a hard time understanding his work, therefore creating censorship. One of his most controversial pieces is titled A Dance with Skirts. His research created the discovery that outside of the US and Canada, people like to burn flags. The most burned flags that are photographed and placed on the Internet are the US flag and the Israeli flag. Longbow uses the bilateral symmetry in this piece. The only editing that was done was color enhancement. Since this image he has been playing with other found images to find their spirit with the same process of A Dance with Skirts. This photograph is the “lightest” image that he has been able to create. Longbow draws from is research and his life to create work and continues to develop art in this method.