Searching for Wabi Sabi: Photographs by Bruce MacDougall

Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is pleased to present the exhibit Searching for Wabi Sabi by Bruce MacDougall in its Step Up Gallery in October.

The photographs in Searching for Wabi Sabi “represent my effort at coming to terms with what life dumped in my lap the morning of April 29, 2010,” says MacDougall. “My daughter Molly was murdered that day.”

Wabi sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that values objects and images reflecting the transience and imperfection that characterize our existence; it eschews the idealized, the formal, the ornate. “My daughter Ruby introduced me to wabi sabi,” MacDougall recalls, “in the hope that I would find some level of acceptance of Molly’s death within the tenets of wabi sabi: nothing is permanent; nothing is finished; nothing is perfect.”

“I am so grateful to have received her gift because somewhere within wabi sabi there is a place that brings total acceptance of everything as it is, as it can only be. I look at the world now with much different eyes and see many different things. In my search for wabi sabi I am discovering my lost daughter, Molly. I have found some degree of comfort and am coming around on the total acceptance part, although I doubt I will ever be able to fully accept how she died.”

“My understanding of wabi sabi doesn't lessen the pain I feel in losing Molly. It only deepens my sense that nothing is perfect, all is impermanent.”

Bruce MacDougall’s serious relationship with photography was catalyzed in 2001, when he reconnected with his high-school friend Gene Kennedy, a well-known figure in the Sacramento photographic community. Bruce was living in Massachusetts, but began a series of annual trips to the West Coast to camp and photograph with Kennedy and friends. “During these past 10 years, I have moved from 4x5 wet darkroom to Photoshop, iMac, and Canon 5DMkII. What a trip!”

Recently, MacDougall’s Searching for Wabi Sabi was the subject of an article in B&W Magazine (Issue 91: June 2012).

MacDougall and his wife recently retired from running a home for disabled veterans, Camelot Farm, in an 1830s New England farmhouse. They now live in a small town in New Hampshire. Bruce’s website is



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Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is the proud recipient of a SMAC Cultural Arts Award grant.

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