In a Dark Room: In Memory of Adam Boley



Speaking or writing about grief can’t capture near what it is to feel grief. If you’ve lost someone you love, you probably know that. There are no words is usually all that comes to mind. There really are no words. But here are some anyhow.

I met Adam Boley in the darkroom at St. Edward’s University in Austin, where we were forced to develop our prints alongside whoever else might be working at that particular time. Anyone with darkroom experience knows printing is a tedious task that takes no less than a few hours each time. Adam and I first saw one another’s work in the darkroom and it was there we forged an immediate connection and developed a close bond.

The first print trade I ever made as a young artist was with Adam, when he asked me for a photo I made of a pile of dead deer (typical), which I more than willingly traded for his infrared print of a rib cage lying in a field (both pictured above). I mention this story not just because the moment shows our friendship’s origins but because it exemplifies that friendship.

We are so incredibly fortunate when we find these particular people we not only respect and admire but who engage us and encourage us to try, to work harder, to be better. They are few and far between, but when you find a friend or colleague like that, you ride on the same wavelength, and you feel it.

You’re never afraid to show them what you’ve been working on because you know they’ll always tell you the truth. They’ll tell you if the photograph you made could be sharper. They’ll tell you how much they love that one image and maybe how they thought about it when they read that essay the other day. They’re genuinely proud of you when you do well. They lift you up when you feel like an utter failure. And you do the same right back—without question. It sounds really simple. I’m sure Adam would call it reductive. But that’s exactly why we take it for granted.

I’ve probably curated Adam’s work more than any other individual artist. It has been such a privilege to watch his work evolve—to show my work alongside his, to watch him earn his bachelor’s, to see his work at TX National and Fotofest but also in a little UT locker and a house gallery, to watch him experience his first artists residency, to attend his graduate thesis show, and so on and so on.

The following is a collection of Adam’s images that remind me of this privilege, that take me through this period of time I was lucky enough to know him. It’s extraordinarily difficult not to roll over and give up completely since Adam’s death, but I will continue to work as hard as I can to make Adam as proud of me as I am of him. This is motivation enough.

Adam saw everything in the little things. He was sharp enough to see all the ugly that exists in the world, but he could always find the beauty he needed in a patch of grass or a murky pond. I’ve always found that (in Adam’s words) kind of amazing…


Why is Form beautiful? Because I think it helps us meet our own fear, the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning.

–Robert Adams



























Adam Boley’s work is featured on the cover of Conflict of Interest Volume Two. Join us at the book’s launch Thursday, September 21, 2017, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Co-Lab Projects’ DEMO Gallery, 721 Congress Ave.


Rebecca Marino is co-editor of Conflict of Interest and works as a visual artist and curator in Austin, TX.

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