Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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Basket, Mabel McKay

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I think about Mabel McKay, Pomo basket weaver and medicine woman. Recently, I went to see an exhibition of her work at The Autry Museum in Los Angeles and was struck with the serenity and with the spirit of healing and strength her baskets exude. Greg Sarris’s biography of McKay, Weaving the Dream, recounts a lecture where a student asked her if it was her grandmother who taught her the art of basket weaving. Mabel responded: “It’s no such a thing art. It’s spirit…..I only follow my Dream. That’s how I learn.”

Art, spirit, and dreaming have always been linked for me, and I could feel that in Mabel’s work, even though it was all safely housed in environmentally controlled glass housings. Such work, such medicine people, like Mabel, have so much to teach the rest of the world. In an era of such profound disconnection from spirit, from the earth, from each other, these are people whose work can help weave us back into the fabric of life, back to a place where we can awaken and realize our place within the original web of connections.

What Rough Beast

Sad Day

Sad Day

The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

A Certain Slant of Light

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A Certain Slant of Light

A Certain Slant of Light

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons – 
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes – 

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us – 
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are – 

None may teach it – Any – 
‘Tis the Seal Despair – 
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air – 

When it comes, the Landscape listens – 
Shadows – hold their breath – 
When it goes, ‘tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

Emily Dickinson

Roy DeCarava’s Light

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Cafe Seating

Cafe Seating

There are moments when you realize you have absorbed an image, or have absorbed an understanding of the light in an image. When I took the shot above, it was with Roy DeCarava’s table in mind. His use of light and his rich dark tones have always captivated me, and having internalized them, they often inform how I see and capture light. DeCarava’s use of the strong horizontal line, particularly in this image, is also an aspect of some of his work that speaks to me (in similar ways, contemporary photographer Brendan Kelly’s work also inspires). That said, my image doesn’t have the same pathos expressed in DeCarava’s photo with its record of absence: the empty coat hanging on the back of the chair, the meal eaten, the dishes stacked. As someone just beginning the photographic journey, my image is of a plateless table anticipating the coming meal, anticipating the presence of the person yet to eat. And that that light will always be DeCarava’s light.

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Roy DeCarava, 1952

Anti-Selfie

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Shrouded

Shrouded

In the age of selfies, I’m exploring what I call the “anti-selfie,” or an image that involves more interior than exterior portraiture. The purpose of the anti-selfie is not to take a picture of oneself with a celebrity or at some event, but to capture an expression of one’s interiority.