Lucas Foglia's photographs focus on the intersection of human belief systems and the natural world. Foglia grew up on a small family farm in New York. While malls and supermarkets developed around them, his family heated their house with wood, farmed and canned their food, and bartered the plants they grew for everything from shoes to dental work. But while his family followed many of the principles of the back-to-the-land movement, by the time he was eighteen they owned three tractors, four cars, and five computers. This mixture of the modern world in their otherwise rustic life made him curious to see what a completely self-sufficient way of living might look like.
Between 2006 and 2010, Foglia traveled throughout the southeastern United States befriending, photographing, and interviewing a network of people who left cities and suburbs to live off the grid. Motivated by environmental concerns, religious beliefs, or the global economic recession, these communities build their homes from local materials, obtain their water from nearby springs, and hunt, gather, or grow their own food. In 2012, these photographs comprised his first book and exhibition, A Natural Order.
Foglia's second project, titled Frontcountry (2009-2013), is set in the rural American West, where he explored how people use a landscape that is famous for being wild. Two industries dominate the region's economy: ranching and mining. Cowboys are the chosen representatives. Men on horseback ride through countless movies. Their images are printed on license plates and tourist souvenirs. But, at the time of Foglia's project, the biggest profits were in mining. Coal, oil, natural gas, and gold were booming. Companies digging increasingly bigger holes to find smaller deposits, leaving pits where there once were mountains.
His third project Human Nature, examines how we rely on nature in the context of climate change. Traveling around the world, Foglia documented people who are working towards a better environmental future despite the enormity of the task. Human Nature is a series of interconnected stories, each set in a different ecosystem: city, forest, farm, desert, ice field, ocean, and lava flow. From a newly built rainforest in urban Singapore to a Hawaiian research station measuring the cleanest air on Earth, the photographs demonstrate our need for “wild” places—even when those places are human constructions. Human Nature was published and first exhibited in 2017.
Lucas Foglia (b. 1983) graduated with a MFA in Photography from Yale University and with a BA in Art Semiotics from Brown University. His photographs have been widely exhibited in the United States and in Europe, and are in the permanent collections of museums including the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and London's Victoria & Albert Museum.