So excited to be featuring my accordion-pleated artist’s book at the Southern Vermont Arts Center’s group show, I Choose Film. I am looking forward to seeing the art book on display after the years of photographing and interviewing in Rwanda and the many hours of post-production. It’s printed on a luminous, white Japanese Washi, at Indian Hill Image Works, and will be displayed on 12-feet of floating glass so that the light enhances the texture.
The show opening, less than two weeks away, is July 8th from 4 to 6 PM, and is going to be a delight! There will be the opportunity to meet with the many other featured artists and the possibility of having a wet-plate tintype portrait created by the Penumbra Foundation, NYC, (on both Saturday and Sunday). For the young: a “Take Your Best Shot” instant photography contest.
It’s interesting what connects people…I met architect Rikke Jorgenson through a friend in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and we talked about my fieldwork in Rwanda and got to talking about lines and space and light. Tim Ingold’s idea about “a world in which everyone and everything consists of interwoven or interconnected lines and lays the foundations for a completely new discipline: the anthropological archaeology of the line.”
Leaving today at noon for overnight flights to Rwanda to work with Melissa Johnson of The Putney School. This is a follow-up to the trip Johnson and Putney School students made to Rwanda in July. At that time, they brought four Harrisville Looms to teach students how to weave and create income-generating opportunities working with CHABHA (Children Affected by HIV/AIDS).
Johnson and I are packing a loom and yarn and knitting needles, so I’m going camera simple–bringing only my lightweight digital Olympus E-PL1 and just two lenses…one new that thankfully arrived just in time this morning before my flight. Although we’ll see as I close the bag…still thinking about throwing in a pinhole and a few rolls of film.
Today’s trip is a second unexpected journey this summer connecting with weavers and textile artists. In late July, I was in the Shetlands. There were so many highlights to share–like an outdoor circle of 80 knitters working on one project. This circle was made up of both Shetlanders, Nordics and myself… on my birthday no less!
Knitting Circle at the Böd of Gremista
I was forging my own craft trail– to the South for a lesson in Fair Isle technique with Shetlander Elizabeth Johnston; to the North to visit with fiber artist Iwona Charleson who in addition to spinning yarn from her own croft-raised sheep takes time to create and handcraft one-of-a-kind polymer clay knitting needles.
Then, off to Yell on the ferry where my craft trail got the attention of two young French visitors. They asked to join along while they were en route to Unst, the most northerly point in the UK. I was happy to have co-pilots to remind me to stay to the left while driving to the weaving studio of Andy Ross. Ross is creating artistic and educational opportunities in a remote spot (900+ residents) for all ages. I had been following his blog for a couple of years now, so I couldn’t wait to meet him, see the space and share ideas. He gladly opened the doors to the three of us and within ten minutes had the French visitors weaving on a loom. What a privilege and so much more to share with you all about this part of the adventure. In the meantime, here is a photo of Cami, Carole and Andy at the loom.
Lomography Spinner camera makes for interesting motion when the subject is moving as well. Here the swirl of these Hungarian folk dancers is redoubled by the 360 spinning of the camera lens. It creates a kind of all-at-onceness that you can’t otherwise experience or take in with the eye. This image is a 30″ x 23″ print, scanned from the film and printed on Fabriano Artistico at Indian Hill Imageworks, VT.
Shot in Budapest. While roaming the streets, I walked into a plaza and found myself in the midst of this festival.
Why I was in Budapest….
My friend Danielle and I were en route to Romania to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The build was a new home for a widow with two grown daughters; the three of them had been living in a one room dwelling with no indoor toilet, the one-room sat just next to the train tracks. It was the summer of 2011, and it was a scorcher. As we wore hard hats, face masks and goggles, sitting on Romanian scaffolding on the second floor to apply stucco to the exterior of the home… we were so hot, sooo hot in the over 110 degree sun, but we couldn’t help to not feel grateful for all that was back home.
With the crew: Kristin Holmes Rouse, standing in white tee, our team leader.On the scaffoldingThe home nearly finished in Cluj, Romania
Point Reyes, California….I heard about the overlook, made my way up from San Francisco with cameras in hand including my Soviet-era, Lubitel remake and plenty of film anticipating the view of the Pacific at that edge of the world but I had to use my imagination because the infamous San Fran Fog rolled in. I wasn’t going to leave without a shot, so I climbed a hill in front of this tree, held the twin-lens Lubitel at my waist, and looked down through the lens just when these two young kids walked past.
(Don’t know what a Lubitel is, see below.)
Took the shot with 120 film, scanned to digital, and printed on handmade Amate paper at Indian Hill Imageworks, VT. This paper has a textual quality that deeply absorbs ink and intensifies the density of the hues.
Last February, at a Joyce Maynard writing workshop in San Marcos, Guatemala, I would ask the Mayan villagers: Puedo tomar una foto? But it wasn’t enough just to know how to speak the phrase. The much-photographed Maya turned their faces away from the camera—a hand up, palm out, fingers splayed. I had a new camera and fumbled with changing lenses, working with the longer 70mm, so that I could shoot from a distance. But even one early morning, when I stood on the beach, a lone fisherman, a mile or two out from shore in his canoe, saw me aiming that lens toward him and waved me off.
Just two days before I left to return to Long Island, I thought to hire one of the Jovenes Maya, young tour guides, to walk around the barrios with me, introduce me to people and, sometimes, stand so that it appeared I was photographing him when the camera was really aimed at a nearby subject. While it was frustrating at first, not to be able to work close-up and direct, I began to be interested in their insistence on remaining unknowable. And then I started to look for that mystery.
In the smoky image above, there is only a hint of the faces of the villagers in this Lenten procession-the indigo and purple dress blurred by the whirl of incense. I’ve posted several images from this series on the portfolio page here, but you can view them up close, October 24th–26th and October 31st, November 1st and 2nd, in the Energy Interpreted art exhibit, at the Bay Area Friends of Fine Arts gallery on Gillette Avenue in Sayville, NY. The show is an exhibit presented by Women Sharing Art. The artworks were printed at Indian HIll Imageworks in Vermont by master printer, Stephen Schaub–hand coated surface on Bergger COT-320 printed on a d’Vinci Printing Solution (12 Color).