Spirit Photography

I have so neglected my writing, but not neglected my art. 

ONE of the most moving things I have done was take a workshop at the John Dugdale School of 19th Century Photography and Aesthetics, on Spirit Photography. (check out the link to understand what that genre of photography is as it is important to the story below) The photographs were done using the wet plate method of photography, and I made three ambrotypes.

The school is on a back country road in Stone Ridge NY.  It is a simple two room studio, filled with light and heated with a fireplace in one room, and an iron stove in another. Candles provide the lights in the evening for lectures and movies, though there is electric to run modern conveniences such as a projector and CD player for the classical music that drifted through the studio as we worked.

I did not make the wet plates - master Tom did that, and we were assisted by the fabulous Jenn, Helena, and Emma. 

I chose to interpret a 19th century painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, titled Astarte Syriaca.
Armed with gowns, a crown of flowers that I wove from the field, and a few other props, I made my interpretation of the painting.  It is amazing that this is on glass, and that I can scan it to make a positive print.
  John worked with me to make two spirit photographs that are narratives about my father.  My father and I did not have a good relationship, and when he was diagnosed with cancer during my first year of college, we were not allowed to tell him that he was going to die.  It was a very sad time, and the one thing that hurt me dreadfully was being robbed of the opportunity for us to make our peace before he passed.  After years in therapy, I realized that he was only doing what he knew best, and that he must have been a damaged child or young man to have been so angry and abusive. He was a tortured soul and a very hard man to live with. 

John helped me work out some ideas, one being a photo of me looking at my father's childhood pop up book which I have treasured over the years in spite of it's poor condition, with my father looking over my shoulder.  The other is a simple photo of me with my hands in prayer, and his ghosted image in front of me, with his hands over mine.The experience was amazing. 

The other workshop attendees were fabulous as was the staff.  It was a Zen like setting, a Zen like weekend, and I went through a spiritual transformation on many levels. I am grateful for the experience and recommend taking a workshop with John when he starts up his classes again next year.

I also had another opening (for the same painting show) and am getting ready for another solo show of my collage work in December, as well as my annual craft fair through the Unison Arts Center.  I have two works of art at WAAM .

As the holiday season approaches, remember to buy from local artists and artisan, from small local mom and pop stores. Avoid the malls, Walmart, Target, and put you money where it will really help the economy and give it to the 99%.


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