Tuesday, April 29, 2008

GoodBye O' Diversity

A few weeks ago we had quite a bit of rain and our now ephemeral creek was surging and got quite high. This creek marks the lot line between us and our next door neighbors. Our side of the creek has several trees and some brush growing along it...a riparian buffer of sorts. Our neighbor mows everything in sight right up to the edge of the creek...no riparian buffer at all. Well in this last storm it seems some of our vines caused a little blockage and the water cut further into our neighbor's bank and dangerously close to his driveway. He mentioned something to Ian and so this weekend we went out to chop down the vines to avoid further blockage and erosion on his side. I would like to tell him he should really plant some vines or some other plant to stabilize his bank (which is more eroded all around) but I think he looks at our messy yard with disdain so I figure it is best left to the water to decide. In any case we headed out to whack and cut away at the tangled mass of vines, the only wild area in our yard. Within no time we had located a robin's nest and egg that would have to be removed. I was sad and could hear the robins calling at us to stop our destruction of their habitat. Then we heard a strange hissing noise and looked to find a baby squirrel frightened by our rearranging and removal of his environment. He was a friendly little guy and he and Ian hit off quite well. There was no sign of his parents so we placed him on a neighboring tree and hoped he would find his way. I had always heard it was the unkempt landscapes, like vacant lots in cities, that provided the most habitat for little critters and now after the biodiversity shake down in my own yard I can really see the value of such spaces in a world of mowed lawns and trimmed edges.

Displaced Nest

Ian with Baby Squirrel

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On Boredom and Destiny

This was my birthday horoscope on Free Will Astrology:

"The greatest poverty is boredom," said one of my teachers, Ann Davies. "The greatest hell is not having a goal." Make those ideas your touchstones as you carry out a twofold assignment. First, use all your ingenuity to banish any reasons you might have to feel bored. Second, invoke your craftiest optimism and wildest discipline as you identify a goal whose pursuit will move you ever closer to the state the mystics call heaven-on-earth.

It seemed particularly fitting for me right now and in line with purpose of my blog. Happy birthday to me:)


I have been in an unusually good mood since we made certain decisions about our future. Perhaps change is something I thrive on. I am feeling the need to kick into high gear if I am to finish my green wall series as the green wall will only exist a little while longer. The series is about relationships- the give and take, the struggles, the passage of time and change. I had a new idea to shoot figures lit up by text so I was thinking about what text I could use. I had first thought that Chinese calligraphy would look really cool projected onto a figure, but other than looking cool I don't have any particular reason to use Chinese symbols. So, I thought some more and then I remembered a poem we used in our wedding. I went back and read A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Stafford and it resonated very deeply once again. I think poetry and photography share a similar spirit. They are both small glimpses into larger ideas and I think they both suffer in a world which moves so quickly that people just consume without spending the time it takes to really look or really read something.
Handwritten poem ready for projection

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Change in Perspective

Today is April 16th, a day that one year ago was a traumatic event in my life. As a student at Virginia Tech, I was on campus when the shootings occurred, but even more profoundly upsetting was the loss of a good friend, Jamie, in this tragic event. Jamie's death has impacted my and Ian's life in numerous ways, but here I wanted to point to how it lead to a small but important change in perspective for me in my creative life. I always loved going over to Jamie and Steffi's for dinner or to watch a movie because beyond just enjoying their company, there was always that moment of "let me show you what I have been working on" when Jamie would take me to his office or to the basement or garage to show me his latest project. We shared a love for photography, design and art, we appreciated each other's styles and approaches to our work and we spoke of collaborating on a project on numerous occasions. I deeply regret that we never got the chance.

Jamie was an infinitely positive person. He created amazing artwork that made him happy and he cared little about rules, pretensions and conventions. I think this was why I was so drawn to his work; it spoke to the human spirit. He was the first friend I have had that I could relate to and understand on a creative level. Just before his death he had decided to return to school to study art. It was a commitment I admired and perhaps envied slightly.

During our summer in Ireland I had a lot of time to reflect on what had happened as we began the long and difficult healing process. I have always wanted to be an artist and I just kept coming back to this and Jamie's desire and willingness to immerse himself in the world of art. The thing that has stopped me from committing to photography all of these years is fear. Fear that I am not good enough, fear of failure and so many others. I came to realize how detrimental fear is to a happy life, and that if I could do anything to honor the memory of my friend, it was to live the life I wanted. The first step was to acknowledge that I am an artist. I think Jamie would have liked to hear this.

I went on to spend the summer immersing myself in photography and ideas for new projects. I shot quite a bit of film and have a few series I still would like to print from the summer. The work I produced in Ireland may not be my best work. It may not even be something I want the world to see, but for me it was the only way I knew to begin the process of healing and honoring the memory of a friend. After finishing a masters in landscape architecture, I feel compelled to use the knowledge and talent I have acquired in this field. Perhaps someday I will be a full time artist, but for now I am happy to share my creative vision between two worlds. While landscape architecture jobs may come and go, I will always have my creative vision and I will constantly work to bring it to life because I am an artist.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


In my attempts to shoot still life photographs I have become more receptive to still life images. The other day I shot some grapefruits which were OK but not terribly exciting. Something about the glistening pulp makes me a little nauseous.

Then I saw this image of persimmons. The colors and compsition are similar, but it is so much more intriguing and interesting. The tight cropping, the shallow depth of field and the color and texture of the paper all combine to create a striking image. I can't even tell what the orange shapes are, I thought perhaps eggs at first, but I can sense from the curves and warmth that they are organic.

Martin Sshweitzer Persimmons 1959

Monday, April 7, 2008

Photos of Photos

I have been playing with the idea of taking photographs of photographs projected onto other surfaces. I had the idea of projecting an image of water onto the surface of my bed, but this has proven very difficult to achieve due to the size I need the projection to be and the limited distance I can get from the bed's surface.

In this installation the photographs seems to take on a similar conversation with the backdrop/floor that a projection takes as it morphs with its backdrop/projection surface. I love how this installation implies that the scene photographed once existed right here on this floor.
Wlliam Liedlich Landscape 1 1978