Dan Wells

Lexington, MA

Dan Wells with camera

I have loved wild places for as long as I can remember, going back to my early childhood when the happiest time of my year was summers spent on a small lake in New Hampshire. Photography became a part of my relationship with wild places in high school – my first photography course was actually a purely practical decision (I was facing an art requirement, and I can’t draw worth a darn), but I quickly fell in love with the medium, and with the way it allowed me to express myself, especially in the natural world. Throughout a formal education centered on ecology, I usually carried a camera into the field, and was always looking for ways to combine my interests, which I have found in one of my current jobs – teaching Landscape Photography in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont. Since I began teaching at UVM 10 years ago, I have taught my photography course in a rather unusual manner, focusing on the camera as a tool for the exploration of our environment.

After a 200+ mile hike on Vermont’s Long Trail in 2013, I became interested in the freedom and community that wild places can offer us – on the very special relationship to the wild enjoyed by those who truly take the time to leave our day-to-day society for a while and spend an extended period exploring on our longest trails.

One of my most important personal quests focuses on freedom from perception of my disability – I have cerebral palsy, and, in day-to-day society, my disability introduces itself to people before I have a chance to introduce myself. In the wild, the disability remains, but the issue of perception of disability, which is far more crippling than the disability itself, goes away. It may seem ironic for someone who walks more slowly than some to find his fullest expression on hikes of hundreds or thousands of miles, but that is where I find it.

This Spring (2017), I will embark on a 2000+ mile wilderness journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. As an artist, I will be photographing and writing about the landscape, but also about my personal journey, and the journeys of those who accompany me, and those I meet on the trail. Several former students and advisees of mine from UVM will accompany me for all or part of the journey, adding their stories to mine, and working in additional media from film to watercolor.

Dan’s adventure will be captured, in part, by two of his former students, Isabelle LaMotte and Micah Berman, of Mountain Theory. Follow their trail on Facebook and on Instagram (feed below).

Visit Dan’s Hatchfunding project page for more information about his adventure.

My Core Values

  1. To find, explore, protect and document wild places
  2. To find myself through wildness, and use wild places to heal and grow
  3. To explore the places, activities and practices that make me whole
  4. To share the freedom the wild gives us with others - re-gardless of ability, race, gender or other external factors
  5. To build my own and others' relationships with the natural world
  6. To care for others in my life - friends, family, students and casual acquaintances
  7. To build and enhance community among humans through our interactions with nature and wild places
  8. To work towards a better and more inclusive global community with respect for all and for the world around us

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