“My Fate, By Choice” from the Persephone Series in Color It Red 2016
My thanks to Red Dog News editor Tim Anderson, along with jurors Ann Marquis Hart and Pat Berrett, for selecting “My Fate, By Choice” from the Persephone Series as a winner in Color It Red 2016 contest.
My Fate, By Choice
This is the fifth year for this particular competition, and it is always interesting. There were some beautiful entries this year. All the winners may be seen in the Color It Red 2016 gallery. Be sure to click on the little thumbnails to see the full images.
This is but one image from the Series. More images, and an explanation of the series, almost as an autobiographical photoessay, may be seen in the e-book available at Amazon. The book may be read on any device with the free Kindle app.
Once again, many thanks to Kelly Angerosa who played Persephone so beautifully.
2016 Insight New Mexico, organized by LeRoy Perea and held in the Fine Arts Building at EXPO-NM, starts the 2016 photography show year for me. This is a juried show for women photographers in New Mexico. The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, April 2, and then will be open to the public from April 3 through April 24, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, daily except closed Mondays. All exhibited images will be available for purchase.
I would like to thank the jurors for including the two images I submitted for the show, “My Fate, by Choice” and “I Choose Both, Free as a Bird,” both from the “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma” series.
I would like, once again, to thank Jim Stallings for introducing me to such a compelling myth which served as the inspiration for “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma,” the series from which these two images come, and Kelly Angerosa, who provided both beauty and substance in the role of Persephone.
Spring will eventually come. Although it may not seem like it this weekend, with the record-breaking blizzard on the East Coast, warm bright days with green trees and flowers are ahead. Here in New Mexico, the winter, so far, has not been bad, although who knows what will happen over the next couple of months. The increasing daylight hours can already be seen and felt.
In the fall of 2015, when I was introduced to the Persephone myth, I’m sure that I was initially attracted to its explanation of Winter, of which I am not fond and never have been, and its promise of Spring. After all, Persephone is the Greek Goddess of Spring. When she returns to Earth from the Underworld and her obligations as wife of Hades and Queen of the Underworld, she brings with her Spring and its glorious days.
This weekend I encountered an interesting article over at Digital Photography School that talks about photographing with meaning.
There comes a point, or a plateau, as in every photographer’s career (whether you are an intermediate or professional photographer) where you hit a wall. It’s a crisis of self that you are faced with when you have reached a certain point of technical proficiency. Well, basically you hit a plateau because you already know […]
To be perfectly honest, I had not consciously thought about being in the winter of a “crisis of self” in terms of photography. At some level I knew that I was at a plateau and had been for some time, but I did not have time to worry about it because of so many family life crises I had to deal with in the past year and a half. I try to photograph something every day to keep up my skills, and almost every day I learn something new about photography. But, I did not sit down and plan to do something different; I did not think I had time to fit thinking about something like that into my life at the moment.
I’m not really certain exactly how a casual mention of the Persephone myth in an email from friend Jim Stallings set off the photography frenzy that followed, but it did. Within two weeks I had done a short series inspired by it, using my well known subjects of sunflowers and butterflies. Once that was done, however, I began to think of a series involving a model to tell a portion of the Persephone myth. Although I had worked with a model on someone else’s project in the past, and although at one time I did maternity portraiture, I had never hired a model I chose for a conceptual project. I wasn’t even sure how to go about it. But almost, as if by magic, the perfect model appeared. I shocked myself by walking up and asking her if she would be a photographer’s model and, almost as surprisingly, she agreed.
With Persephone, Greek Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld as both a starting point and inspiration, this conceptual photographic series also became an exploration of the meaning of being female with both body and mind. What began as a small personal project for this photographer also became a search for meaning of self, reflecting back on life as a woman, anthropologist, and obstetrician-gynecologist. I didn’t consciously set out “to photograph with meaning,” but it is a series that came to have a lot of meaning to me personally, whether it does to anyone else or not. In the first month of 2016, I surprised myself again by publishing a small Kindle Book. (That added another surprise. While poking around on Amazon, I found a copy of a book, Anthropologists at Home in North America, in which I had published one of my early anthropology papers . That was a bit of shock, and definitely a pleasant reminder.)
I feel like a new spring has arrived for me in my work as a photographer. Today, I cannot say where things will go from here. Kelly Angerosa, my model for Persephone, and I will work together in the spring. I’m looking forward to that next adventure!
Those of you who are regular readers here have seen this work from the time it was barely an idea, now up to its presentation as a Kindle ebook.It is important to note that you do not have to have a Kindle to be able to view the book. Amazon offers free Kindle apps for desktops (PC and Mac), laptops, tablets, and smartphones (iOS and Android). In fact, since this ebook features images in color, I can view it better with an app on any of my devices other than my Kindle Paperwhite, which shows the images in black and white.
If you have followed the Persephone series as it developed here, you have already seen most of twelve images that are featured in the ebook. New text has been added: a discussion of myth, meaning, and various approaches to interpretation; a look at the mind-body dichotomy in human society; and some autobiographical references. From the Preface:
Persephone, Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld in Greek mythology, became a truly fascinating mythological figure to me in 2015. I became determined, almost obsessed, as a photographer, to interpret a portion of her story. A complex myth, the part that initially captured my imagination involved Persephone’s cyclic descent into the Underworld and return to Earth each Spring.
Now that this small portion of the story is completed as a photographic series, I realize I was so driven to do the work because it presented an unexpected opportunity for me to synthesize much of my adult life – as a woman, as an anthropologist (PhD University of Arizona), as an obstetrician and gynecologist (MD University of Kansas, residency training University of New Mexico), and photographer (University of New Mexico).
As I worked with the images from what was intended to be a simple photoshoot, I began to realize that in many ways I was telling a story of an archetypal Woman, through one woman’s learning what it is to be female, in both body and mind. This is not a story about a woman learning to accept society’s or other’s definitions, but rather it is about a woman defining herself to herself, in her many complexities. Twelve images from the series are presented in this volume.
Myth, “the repository of the collective unconscious” – I learned to say that as an anthropologist. I learned what it meant as a photographic artist well into my mature years.
It is fitting that the portion of the myth involving Persephone’s cyclic descent into the Underworld and return to Earth, bringing Spring with her, consumed so much of my time during fall and winter. I first became aware of the myth on September 15 in casual email correspondence with friend Jim Stallings. By the end of September I had submitted for jurying three images inspired by the myth, using subjects well known to me: sunflowers and butterflies. All three were juried into 2015 ANMPAS (Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show) and shown there in December:
I spent much of October photographing beautiful split pomegranates from my mother’s dwarf tree. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with all of those images; I just knew I had to photograph them.
By the end of October I began thinking of doing a series with a model. As a photographer, at one time I had done maternity portraits. And, once I had worked with someone else’s model on that person’s project. But, I myself had never chosen and hired a model. I really had no idea how I was going to do that. But, on October 30, the perfect person just sort of appeared. The following day I surprised myself by walking up and asking her if she had ever been a photographer’s model or if she would ever consider being a photographer’s model. Almost as much to my surprise, she said that although she had not done that before, she would be willing to do it.
Kelly Angerosa and I did the photoshoot on November 12, 2015. I spent the next two months consumed with processing the images to say exactly what I wanted them to say, getting the images out for review, and then writing this explanation and meaning of the project as a Kindle ebook.
While there is still some work to do on this series, it seems fitting that, while we will still have some very wintry, cold, windy days, the lengthening light with its hope of spring can be both seen and felt. Work is winding down on this series as spring approaches. Thoughts are turning to a new photoshoot with Kelly and a new emphasis in the spring.
I hope you’ll take the time to click on the Preview (above) and consider sharing your thoughts. To those of you who have been through this saga with me, Thank You!
Image New Mexico Opening Reception was held on Friday, July 3, at Matrix Fine Art. This was also part of First Friday Artscrawl, as well as part of the Independence Day holiday weekend. I went with the intention of enjoying myself, and I did. These are casual phone photos from the evening. Thanks to friend Tim Price who took the images of me. (We know about the glare on the glass at the beginning of the evening 😉 )
The majority of the images are black and white. Some are classic New Mexico, some show what can be done with digital art not “straight from the camera” nor intended to be. It is nice mix. The show will be open through July at Matrix Fine Art.
Once again, the two images I have in this show are “The Observer/The Observed” and “Living Jewels – Harry’s Pearls.”
I thank everyone who came to the opening, and especially my friends, some of whom really had to work hard to make it there. Thank you!
UNM Digital Photography Exhibit, Now Through the End of July
UNM Digital Photography Exhibit, arranged by the Digital Arts Program on the Continuing Education Campus, is up and open to the public from now through the end of July. It is in the Conference Center, the North Building.
Participants in the UNM Digital Photography Exhibit include the digital photography instructors, advanced students in the program, and graduates of the program (that would be me, 2009).
The UNM Digital Photography Exhibit is not a juried exhibit. Participants were invited to bring whatever pieces of their work they wanted to show.
The three pieces of mine that I chose have all been in juried shows. Although not intentional at the time of selection, I realized later the pieces represent a sort of developmental scheme.
This image was made in 2009 with a Canon G9, a somewhat advanced but still a point-and-shoot camera. To date, this is my most awarded image. It was juried into the International Biennial Exhibition of Fine Art and Documentary Photography at The Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from January 19th through February 27th, 2010. It was also juried into the Corrales Fine Arts Show here in New Mexico. It was awarded “1st Place – Outstanding Achievement” in Still Life at the 8th Annual Black and White Spider Awards. It was awarded the Bronze Medal, 3rd Place in Nature-Flowers at the 2012 Paris Photo Prize, along with 3rd place for People’s Choice Award. Again, this was an early piece done with a point-and-shoot camera. The piece has special meaning because my mother grew the lily, and held a white background for me as the light was quickly fading in her garden.
This image is from a trip to the Jemez Mountains here in New Mexico over Autumnal Equinox weekend in 2013. Everything about that entire weekend was full of the magic for which New Mexico is known. This was at the very beginning of the trip. I had planned to photograph this church before I even left home. My traveling companions could not understand why I would even bother to stop to photograph it! I just wanted to! By this time I had moved up to a Canon full frame dSLR. This image was juried into the Corrales Fine Arts Show as well as the Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show.
‘The Observer/The Observed’
This image was created this year, and of the ones in this post, has the most meaning to me. Many of you know my son was diagnosed with leukemia over Thanksgiving weekend (he is now in remission and doing quite well, I’m happy to say), and this was done as I was trying to make sense of all that was happening. In mythology of some Native Americans, Crow is a messenger between worlds, as well as a trickster who can steal light from the sky (the sun) and carry it to people who need it. I rarely see crows in my yard, and this one stayed just long enough for this image. Editing it to show what I wanted to show took a long time; it also took my mind off a lot of things; and was the most creative thing I had done after my son was diagnosed. I had not intended to show it; I did the work strictly for me. But Jim Stallings, fellow anthropologist, writer, and friend wrote a poem about it as a gift to me and my family in those dark days of winter:
Spontaneous Poem from a Treetop Crow
In the lofty life of a wise old crow
Swaying in the topmost backyard branches
Like a magical clock counting down mortality’s coil,
May it not be in some secret way
We the awed observers
Have all along been honored by a wiser watcher?
– Jim Stallings
Jim’s poem encouraged me to enter the image, and it was juried into the 2015 InSight New Mexico show, “Through Her Eyes,” held in April. (It has also been juried into another show, to be held in July – more about that in a different post).
I invite my friends in the Albuquerque area, as well as friends who will be passing through Albuquerque between now and the end of July, to stop by the Conference Center on the UNM CE campus (Indian School and University) and see the UNM Digital Photography Exhibit, with works by the digital photography instructors, advanced students, and graduates of the digital photography program.
The 25th Old Church Fine Arts Show presented by the Visual Arts Council of the Corrales Historical Society opened on Friday, October 4 with a wonderful reception for artists and their family and friends. The 2013 Exhibition of Fine Art is open daily from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, closing on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 4:00 PM.
Net proceeds and donation from Artists’ sales go to the preservation and maintenance of the Old Church. Visit the Visual Arts Council on the web at corraleshistory.com.
The Old Church is a beautiful venue for a Fine Art Show, as these images from this year’s show indicate:
All adobe structures require constant maintenance. The Old Church is a much-loved historic structure, and this spring it received its annual “mudding.” On July 26, 2013, the Albuquerque metro area along the Rio Grande River was hard-hit by a strong, severe storm, eventually described by the National Weather Service as “hurricane strength.” Odd for the desert, but it did happen. The north side of this beautiful old historic building was severely damaged. A lot of time and money will be required to restore it to its condition before the storm.
Winners were announced at the Opening Reception on Friday, October 4. Congratulations to Frank Dobrushken for Best of Show with his black and white photograph, “The Dancers.” Cheryl Cathcart was awarded Second Place for “Suspended in Air.”
I was very pleased to received Third Place for “Floral Fireworks.”
Thanks to Jurors of the Show, and to the Visual Arts Council.
I have a second piece in the show, “Cycles of Life: Sacred Datura:”
From October 3 through October 31, artwork in a variety of media will be featured at Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna Beach, California.
Dia de los Muertos, the day the spirits of the dead are welcomed back, and honored with special foods and offerings at altars made especially for the occasion, is a major holiday in Mexico. Not surprisingly, it is also a major festive occasion in New Mexico and elsewhere in the Southwest.
I am pleased to have two images in this show:
The opening reception promises to be a lot of fun. In addition to usual reception fare (wine, appetizers, music), there will be face painting for all ages.
If you are going to be in the Laguna Beach area in October, consider visiting the show at the Las Laguna Gallery.
The results of the 5th Annual Pollux Awards have just been announced, and I am very honored and happy that five of my images placed as Finalists in this year’s competition.
In the category, “People,” my image ‘Muertos, Marigolds, y Motorcycles 1’ was a finalist.
‘Spirits of the Old Adobes, Spirit 3’ was named a Finalist in Digital Manipulation.
Two images were finalists in the category, “Nature.”
This image will be shown in the Corrales Fine Arts Show at the Old San Ysidro Church during Balloon Fiesta, October 4 -13, 2013. It is also a finalist for this year’s Julia Margaret Cameron Award.
The second image in the “Nature” category to be named a finalist is this Japanese sea nettle. This image also won 3rd Place in the People’s Choice Awards in this year’s PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris.
A fifth image, ‘The Wonder of It All,’ was named a finalist in the “Portrait” category.
I would like to thank the WPGA and juror Julio Hardy for recognizing these five images.
I would also like to congratulate all the winners. Many of my friends are winners in multiple categories, and I’ll list them later, when I am sure I have checked and double checked to make sure I have not left anyone out.