Photographs in the series Mental Images include still life, landscape, and quasi-narrative studies. Sometimes, precipitated by events in the world, the series’ pictures reflect a response to certain dark musings, though not without a kind of sardonic humor.
Most of the pictures in the series are pre-meditated, hence the series’ title. I often conceive an image and then must scout out the right location to realize it. Images that suggest enigmatic narratives often feature my alter-ego, a Buster Keatonesque character prone either to engage in curious, rather hopeless tasks or to get caught up in unexpected events. The landscape studies, while requiring little or no alteration to the scene, suggest a world imbued with endless potential to overturn—or redirect―human expectations. The pictures, then, offer an oblique commentary on larger geopolitical, environmental, and social issues. Their ultimate meanings, however, remain open-ended.
As a body of work, Mental Images has developed slowly and simultaneously with other series of pictures that either possess a more documentary orientation or, if similar in mood, often are paired with poems. The pictures, which are selenium-toned, gelatin silver prints, are made from single, medium-format negatives using traditional photographic processes.
Pictures from the series have appeared in juried exhibitions throughout much of the United States. A selection of images from it was also published in the Little Patuxent Review (Summer 2011), 65-68, with an essay by Tim Singleton, "What's There? Looking at the Work of Richard K. Kent," 69-71.