originally from no. virginia, i came to maine in seach of mountains, oceans, and as it turns out - love. i met my hubs freshman year at colby college. i have spent my life figuring out what i want to be when i grow up, career girl? following a career on a global markets trading floor in boston, I became hooked on photography as a stay-at-home mother to two boys. now, it’s not just photography, it’s the whole creative process — it is the means by which i processes the jagged journey of life and motherhood — the wondrous beauty and aching impermanence.
My love of photography began as I was taking pictures of my children on the floor with their toys, and started to experiment with my photography as they played. There came a time when I found myself in the midst of a disruption, spurred into increased uncertainty around the purpose of my photography. It turns out that the answers were within me. I realized that the pictures weren’t about just my children anymore; they had become an exploration into our shared fragility and beauty, and ultimately fear and vulnerability.
Being engrossed in this work, I am able to reconnect to my own childlike wonder and imagination to see my way through the bumpy days when I am afraid. I discover new ways of navigating the groundlessness by seeing magically. It’s almost like that feeling when we’re just starting to fall asleep and we wake up feeling like we are falling? I’ve realized we are designed to go though ups and downs - curves and tilts. It’s no wonder we struggle walking across a tightrope. The rub is balancing wanting to hold on versus letting go. There is often that thought that something bad could happen that hasn’t yet. This project brings me to my inner space while feeling the butterflies. This is where new ideas come from unexpected places.
I draw upon the creative process itself, for the gift of adventure and serendipitous surprises. Ambiguity and discomfort have become the catalyzing sparks in my process. As an artist, I am making a mystical, mysterious, magical alternative world that is fragile, ephemeral, and reflexive. Whispers of danger mingle with wishes for hope. Curiosity leads me. The images become almost like mirrors dangling from a mobile swaying in the breeze. It embodies an experiential escape into an ever-shifting dwelling. Aspects are variably out of reach.
It’s funny, because it is definitely feels like a world that I inhabit alone. But perhaps my children and I do occupy it together. It might be that this is the way that I am joining them on a deeper level and share in our dreams and fears. I can imagine that this could become a way for them to learn how to see within themselves. I’ve come to see it as a model for anyone see possibility and personal freedom that they wouldn’t see otherwise.
For me, fear is a integral part of the overall artistic process, it inherently interconnected, ever more so with the passage of time. And yet, I have discovered in this work a way to partition fear off to the side a bit, to make more room for beauty, and more positive possibilities. The way that I have done this is to use fear as a it is meant to be applied - as a motivator. I tell fear, you are welcome to come along, but possibility rides shotgun! I redirect myself towards curiosity and the compass of my heartstrings. It’s evanescent, ‘catch me if you can!’, as the Gingerbread Man says, but oh what a sweet chase.
On a good day, I can relax into it, feeling fully focused while at the same time completely loosing myself in wonder and enchantment. Even sometimes as I experience wounding, visceral reactions. I do think this is a different kind of photography than most other genres. In Art & Fear, David Bayles and Ted Orland describe this feeling one’s way as reflexive art. Things aren’t always in focus; things mingle between harmonious and discordant unpredictably. Further, as Robert Adam writes in Beauty in Photography, “the job of a photographer in my view is . . . to try to be coherent about intuition and hope.” Through making this work, I am externalizing my inner self in search for signals and acknowledgment, and wisdom.
The artistic process has proved to me that we are built to struggle. It’s in the strife, in the midst of chaos, where we can gain clarity. Seeking to face our way through challenges more creatively grants us illuminance. I am driven to finding new ways to to be more comfortable in reality’s discomfort. We have fear, we have vulnerability - we can’t shake them. The creative process has taught me that without them, we’d be flatlining. It’s the heavy feelings that make our hearts beat stronger, making us feel more alive and open to transformation and enlightenment.
The work continues to evolve has my imagination wanders, in camera - in reflection - in writing - and in the artist books I make. There is room for exploring different aspects of looking inside one’s self within the work I am making now, Raising Goosebumps. It will be continuing to pay close attention to what I am curious about and spending a lot of time with the images that resonate for me most deep down, being open to discovering their meaning. Something will prompt me, as I feel my way. Lately, I have been drawn to making images where it is so dark that it’s not clear what we are seeing. I’ve also been photographing thorns, dead trees, and spindly leafless branches. I am not all sure what that is all about except to say it is a strong pull.
I imagine that at some point, I will look at the work I am making and realize that it has moved on to something else, but for now it will be where I continue to dwell. It is my life ring. It remains an anchoring point. It offsets the rigors, duties and responsibilities life throws at me.
It is my dream that the end viewer will walk away with the feeling that they had a meaningful, deeply personal encounter with this work. The viewer may arrive at a the point where they can’t even think about anything else, taking an experiential escape into themselves! It is my hope that the work sparks a feeling of recognition, echoed by the fact that deep down we are more alike than different. Perhaps even feel a bit lightheaded, and alight with wonder. As I continue I go deeper into myself, hopefully it resonates more with everyone else who sees the work as it continues to evolve and come alive in its various dimensions.