The Urban Wilderness

Text and Photographs by Joseph O. Holmes
By Joseph O. Holmes, January 2018
Holmes - Nethermead 2010

Nethermead 2010

Holmes - The Ball Fields 2010

The Ball Fields 2010

Holmes - Nethermead South 2010

Nethermead South 2010

Holmes - Long Meadow 2010

Long Meadow 2010

Holmes - North of the Tennis House 2010

North of the Tennis House 2010

Holmes - Long Meadow North 2010

Long Meadow North 2010

When I walk deep into Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on the first snowfall each year, I find myself transported to the winter meadows and hills of my childhood and to the hikes and backpacking trips around the tiny Pennsylvania factory town where I grew up. My town was surrounded by Christmas tree farms, apple orchards, corn fields and forested hills. My stomping grounds were the trail down to Kettle Creek bottom, the railroad bridge across the Susquehanna River, and the walk through hemlocks and pines to the swimming hole known as the Haystacks. The steeper streets were closed when it snowed, and we immediately claimed them for sledding.

At first glance, many of the snowy spaces in The Urban Wilderness might be mistaken for those rural scenes: stark white meadows rimmed by low hills and bare trees. But upon closer inspection, street lamps come into focus, hints of park benches appear and backpackers are revealed to be dog walkers.

The wilderness and the urban details are an incongruous mix: the juxtaposition of pristine emptiness with hints of the immense human presence lurking just outside the frame. But a hike through Prospect Park in the winter is the closest thing I can manage these days to those walks through the snowy hills of my childhood.

Joseph O. Holmes’ photographs have hung in solo and group shows around the world, and have been honored with numerous awards. He lives in Brooklyn and is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery, New York City. Prints of his work are available at

All photographs © 2010 Joseph O. Holmes

Article first appeared in The Bark, Issue 63: Feb/March 2011