Saturday, January 14, 2017

Life Lessons

A little over two weeks ago, a woman I never met, messaged me, asking if I would be interested in photographing her. I thought the shoot would be for her, and to help her in some small way, to love herself, and to see the strong and beautiful person that she is. You see this person has been battling breast cancer for the last 7 months and soon she'll have a double mastectomy. I don't know if the photo session was a positive for her or not, but it was life changing for me.

We have become Facebook friends and every day I see her strength. Her ability to fight through her fear and physical limitations, for herself and her son. Honest with herself and those around her. She is a tough and beautiful spirit. One that has had a huge impact on me in a very short period of time.

Those who know me are aware that I am not religious or spiritual. I consider myself a humanist. I do believe in the golden rule and I often fail at it more than I'd like to admit. My photography for the last 6-7 years has dealt with peoples identity. During this time I've tried to use my platform with photography to make everyone feel inclusive with respect and beauty, of their individuality. This is genuine and meant to break the societal norms that make us question our own self and unique individuality.

This shoot was different. It was a mutual FB friend that ultimately brought her to the Zu to be photographed. Before, during, and after a photo session, I am often most interested in our dialog. I'm not one for small talk so discussions usually become personal. This session and our conversation, was the same. I discovered a woman so empowered with her own identity as a woman, mother, and human being. Facing such challenges yet so full of fight. Maybe that is the only option available?

I myself have been battling severe depression for many months. Withdrawing from society whenever possible and really faking it until I can pull myself out of it. This experience with such a brave and open soul, has taught me more about life in the 3 1/2 hours we shared, than any other life experience. I haven't snapped out of my depression for those who understand the seriousness of it, it's not that easy. What I have done is use her example of strength to move forward with a feeling of optimism that tomorrow will be a better day, and if not tomorrow, maybe the next day.

Life is learning, and I do feel that there is a rhythm to life. Things ebb and flow. People come in and out of our lives. Nature has a way of teaching us all. In my heart, I know that this special person will beat this cancer and continue to positively affect those around her as she has with me. Peace.

And she danced.....

Thursday, December 29, 2016

One eye on the rear view mirror, one eye on the road

"Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work." Gustave Flaubert.

Reflecting on my year, 2016, from an art perspective, I first looked back at some earlier, end of year, observations. At the end of last year, I wrote that over the last four years, 2011 to 2015, I had photographed over 80 individuals combined for “Identity” and “The Dress” series's. This year, I photographed 51 individuals and/or couples. Most of these portrait sessions were for my “Transcendental Beauty” series and others, private commissions. Almost all of them took place over weekends, in-between my full time job, part-time teaching, and family obligations. I'm amazed at that number and the consistency of the work. What I've been struggling to answer over the last two years is; is this sustainable? After two years of soul searching and honest reflection, no it's not. I have one exhibition next year and that is by design. I'll be exhibiting my “Transcendental Beauty” series at the Art Mill in Grafton, next Spring. I am very proud of this body of work and in many ways consider it the third phase in a trilogy on the issue of Identity. Those who know me, know how personal this subject is to me. With “Transcendental Beauty”, I feel like there is an exclamation point at the end of these three bodies of work; Identity, The Dress, and Transcendental Beauty.

What does 2017 hold for me artistically/creatively? I plan to slow way down. Create a better balance between all the things that require time in my life. I enjoy my art immensely and I need to create, to feel alive. I don't feel the need to exhibit the work so much as I have in the past. I will continue to do portraits. I'm beginning to get more commissioned work based on the style of portraiture I've created over the last many years. I want to get back to exploring idea's that I have with miniature sets, something I've enjoyed ever since I photographed editorial work for Dollhouse Miniatures magazine, many years ago. So I will be creating new work, just without the deadlines and expectations of exhibitions.

Society has defined “normal” and “regular”, something I've never fit into, from a very young age.  When I wanted to fit in, I wasn't invited. Now that I probably could fit in, I've been on the outside looking in for so long, that it no longer interests me. I see the world through a different lens, it's where I feel most at home and where I can be the most violent and original in my work.

How Does It Feel

We are changing at seven thousand cells a second.
In seven years, if we are still here, not collectively
but in the singular, we will not be who we are today at all.
We will not have one single cell in us that is here now today.
We are melting and forming and swirling and if we could time
lapse our lives in a mirror over the course of seven years
we might be mortified at the graphic violence of our changes.
Who are you now?
There is the land of the living and the land of the dead,
and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
It feels like a river of darkness and of shimmering light too.
It feels like my fingers are stinging from the cold as I hang
on with all my might in a world of wild weather. And
then I let go and my fingers go warm and I feel a sense that
I am falling. I close my eyes and see myself not falling at all
but standing and there you are again. You with the eyes.
Who I have met before and have never met, and will meet
today if all goes well, or tomorrow, or next month. or maybe
not in this world at all. Only in the world of my hope, and
my faith, and my tangled firing wires of what I believe is
I know those eyes and like an apparition in a Fellini movie
with the gentle breeze tossing the fabric of your white angel
like whatever it is that Angels wear, you slip away again.
And I hang on again. Because I know you're out there waiting
still for me. somehow. How Does It Feel to be on my own?
It feels like home only there's no furniture anywhere and sometimes
I wish I had a beautiful old cowboy couch to just stretch out on,
if even for a second, and just close my eyes. To rest these
weary thoughts.
Cause maybe you'll be there waiting. That's How it Feels,
like the embers in my chest both die and burst like roman
candles across the sky. I shall trudge on til the beating stops.
And I will love you because I can. And I will sing you and play you
to this harsh and brutally beautiful world. I will let them know that
you were here. And that it feels like you will be again.

That's How It Feels
- Jeth Weinrich

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Finding my way; One is a lonely number...

Well, after coming down off of the wonderful high and the equally powerful low from the recent ending of The Dress series exhibition at UW Parkside, it was time to get back in the studio. It can be an intimidating place when you face it with little or no direction. I need to get back into my playful spirit of creation and see where it might take me.

I had the awesome opportunity to meet and photograph this couple yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure if it's heading toward a project or will just be some beautiful photographs for this couple to enjoy. It was a great experience and for someone who enjoys the process as much as I do, that is satisfying in and of itself.