At the most fundamental level, a William Pierson photograph portrays the metaphysical glimpsed through the portal of the physical, natural realm. Regardless of whether the piece is figurative abstract, what Pierson captures in his photographs are moments when his emotional landscape is mirrored in his surroundings—moments when the internal and external meet and become visible to the artist's eye in a shaft of light, a reflection, or the emptiness of a void.
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"[Pierson's work] is not based solely on subject matter, it's based on the sensuality of the moment… He can photograph a puddle of water and make it look like the universe."
When pushed to describe his work, Pierson often says he takes photographs of reflected light off of the world around him. Fair enough. The natural world certainly plays an important role: rocky coastlines, waveforms, clouds, the night sky, trees. But this description doesn't address the aspect of his photographs that sets them apart from traditional landscape or nature photography: the otherness. This otherness that Pierson captures in his work often comes in the form of unexpected real and imagined elements discovered within familiar surfaces: pathways, portals, voids, dividing lines, symmetry. They are aspects that our eyes, as we rush through our daily lives, would likely miss. Pierson captures them for us to see and consider. Suddenly, the everyday object contains something more. It is the embodiment of Minor White's directive to, "not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are." In Pierson's photographs the what else, the otherness, can be profound, meditative, spiritual, even, at times, sensual.
By photographing these surfaces, through his attention to and manipulation of the light he captures, Pierson allows us to see as he sees. Suddenly, almost magically, the familiar becomes new and surprising. We are transported to the realm of the unknown beyond the surfaces. These images, by virtue of being external representations of the artist's internal state (what captures his eye and imagination), function as self-portraits -- glimpses into the artist's internal life, reflections of the artist's internal world.