1) Art is one of the extraordinary ways human beings share experiences or emotions that we are unable to communicate in any other way.
Beauty, love, hope. Loss, fear, hate. Awe, faith, excitement.
The soulful moments we experience walking into St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco.
The giggling kind of fun we feel when we hear the beat and the sound of Bruno Mars singing “Downtown Funk.”
These are moments of art.
Giving off aromas of deep green woods, a massive bronze incense burner is central to the Japanese temple.
A wayfarer embraces the smoke. Clinging to the remains of the sandalwood, he applies the wood scent to his hands, hair, and clothes.
Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This rather modest and self deprecating statement, is an admission that all that we know and all that we achieve is only possible because of the hard work of those humans who did the work before us.
Now it is our turn. To journey, to seek. To find truth. To make great art. To make a better world than the one we inherited.
It is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
We are the shoulders from which the next generations will launch.
If we do not contribute to human knowledge. If we do not bring woman-kind closer to world peace. If we do not come closer to making a sustainable use of the world’s resources.
We will be forgotten. Or worse, we will be held responsible. We will be condemned.
In October 2006, I traveled to rural Romania, to volunteer at a nonprofit orphanage in Romania.
One evening, I took this photo of Roma mothers and their children. The women had been raped, abandoned, and left with babies. The orphanage built a home on their property, giving these women basic housing and food. The families lived together in one small house – a modest existence, but they were safe from the poverty and horrors of the city.
Hours after I took this photo, in the deep night, this house burned to the ground. All the families got out. But, homeless again. Just before the harsh winter.
Just a little girl. Barefoot. Wearing a torn white shift. An enigma – poor and lost. Is she cold? Where did she come from? Where is her mother?
These are questions that could be applied to all Roma people. Where do they come from? Where do they live? Who cares for them?
I took this photo during a visit to a sleepy little town in Portugal. Very quiet. No tourists.
Roma music plays an important role in many European countries. The Gypsy Kings, a popular group of salsa singers from Arles and Montpellier (in the south of France), were mostly gitanos, Berber-Moroccan and Spanish gypsies who fled Catalonia during the 1930s Spanish Civil War.
Roma are also associated with a romanticized idea of their mystical powers and passionate temper. Fortune telling grows out of folklore associated with Renaissance magic, closely associated with the Roma.
As of 2013, with a population of 12 a 13 million people, the Roma people were the largest minority group in a Europe. Communicative Methodology of Research and Recognition of Roma People
The Roma generally are reticent to assimilate with local cultures. Refusing to educate their children in national schools, suspicious of local and national laws, and following their own singular customs, have made these people a pariah in many countries. Associated with chronic poverty and criminal behavior, the Roma people often suffer persecution, prosecution, and mistreatment.
In the 1940s, the Nazis tried to exterminate the Roma people in a process known in Romani as the Porajmos. 1,500,000 men, women, and children were killed. Later, the Soviets conducted a universal sterilization of Roma women. Today, post Soviet Eastern Europe is rife with discrimination and persecution of the Roma people.
The Italians don’t know what to do with the 150, 000 Roma people that crowd their streets begging from visiting tourists. “With the addition of Eastern European states such as Romania into the European Union, Italy has seen an influx of Roma people in the past decade. The attitude towards the Roma people is for the most part hostile, accusing them of opting for crime over a legitimate job and isolating themselves from Italian society (and taxes) by living in illegal camps. One survey in 2008 found that 68 percent of people in Italy wanted all Roma expelled from the country. ” (The Roma People and the Italians: A Strained Relationship)
A cup of coffee cost a whopping $5.00 or $6.00. That is more than $20 in today’s money. American journalists loved to report how exorbitantly expensive Tokyo was by quoting the cost to buy a steak dinner or a cup of coffee.
I didn’t care much about steak dinners, but I loved my coffee shops.
In 1968, I was surprised to find a booming coffee culture in Tokyo. I expected to see a plethora of tea shops. You know – tea, temples, and geishas. Actually, I found it challenging to find a tea room in the city. Instead, I found that Tokyo had the finest coffee and coffee shops outside of Europe, perhaps the world. The kissaten.
It was in Tokyo that I learned to love coffee.
My photography is best when my photos introduce you to me. In my photography you can find seven decades of this artist. Not only what I did, but what I value.
There are many photographers that have mentored me. I have been inspired by their photos, their skills, their aesthetics, their teachings. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ruth Bernhard, Édouard Boubat, Niki Boon, Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Mariana Yampolsky, Eric Kim.
Art is a solo sport.
Make your photos be you. This is what will make your photography completely unique. No one else is even close to being YOU. Incomparable. You are not in competition with anyone else.
Now comes the hard part. Who are you?
Make a list. What do you like to study? What do you like to do? Who and what do you love?
- I am deeply touched by Japanese aesthetics.
- empty space, irregularity
- aging, the imperfect
- I love Japanese kanji and calligraphy.
- I like to translate and study haiku.
- I am drawn to the study of Zen Buddhism.
- I am interested in philosophy.
- I like learning about the universe, the stars, and the constellations.
- I like mathematics.
- I am fascinated by history.
- I like to travel.
- I like to have conversations with strangers.
- I like stories, and sussing out the secrets that people like to share.
- I like cultures different from my own.
- I like the aesthetic of black and white photography.
- I like the beauty of older people, and children.
- I love and am fascinated by my daughters, my grandsons, and my husband.
- I like to write.
So, I was again having a WAIGTDWIGUM (what-am-I-going-to-do-when-I-grow-up) moment. You know, when you feel guilty because you can’t figure out what it is that you were born to be? See my last post.
Shouldn’t I have figured out what I am suppose to be in this life?
The question was also bleeding into my photography. I asked myself what am I doing in photography? What kind of photos should I be making?
We hide in the sands. We survive. Beauty in the sand.
山の月・花盗人を・照らし給う (ISSA: 1763-1828)
The moon over the mountains/even shines/on the flower thief
三尺の・庭をながむる・春日かな (Shiki: 1867-1902)
A three foot garden/taking a moment /a spring day
I first saw an image rise up from a pan of Kodak D-76 in 1995. I cried. It was a miracle, and I had created it. Well, Nikon, Kodak, and a bunch of chemicals had created it. The blank 8 x 10 piece of paper morphed into a black and white image of a freckled girl becoming a woman. I didn’t realize the experience would be so personal, so intimate. I needed my own darkroom. I picked up a newspaper and searched for a used enlarger. I found a 30 year old, 3 foot tall, Omega D6 on sale by an 85 year old man. He sold me his entire darkroom: light box, loupes, timer, safelight, tongs, easel, and enlarger. Continue reading “My first darkroom image”
To my followers and visitors: I’m traveling to the States this week. I’ll be gone for 5 weeks for an exciting and happy visit with family. I hope to continue blogging. Please keep coming to visit; I really like comments. Thank you for encouraging me. I appreciate being a part of a network of fellow travelers through cyberspace. Have a fruitful and art-filled summer. Maureen
Imperial gardens, Kyoto – Japan
Congratulations, Katie. We are so proud of you!
Just a diversion from my photoblog. I want to take time out to talk about something really important. Family.
Today our youngest daughter, Kaitlin, graduated from her Master’s program at the University of California, Davis in Community Development. Wow! An incredible endeavor.
Kaitlin is an artistic, brilliant and compassionate young woman. She makes a difference!
6 years !
名月を 取ってくれろと 泣く子かな 一茶
meigetsu wo – totte kurero to – naku ko kana (Issa)