Sunday, January 17, 2021

Forest Mother 2008 & 2021

Forest Mother 2008

In 2008 I did a residency at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. It was the first time I had ever lived for an extended period of time on the East coast, or had lived in a climate that wasn't Western. The forests and the greenness were completely new to me, and I tried to get to know the area a little better through biking and on my daily jogs and walks out from the school. I photographed lots of trees, along  with the leafless kudzu, which covered huge swaths of the forest, choking out the native species. This piece evolved as a reaction to the forest, and the destruction of it that I saw in and around Roanoke.  The Forest Mother, whose body is made of the trunks of the incredible trees I found all around me, is crying as she leans over a body hidden in the forest floor, whose hands reach up beseechingly. The image is about loss and despair. 

Forest Mother 2021

This more recent Forest Mother, I did as a spin off from another piece, which I blogged about last month in a blog called Transformation. The piece resulted from the middle image, which I thought at the time to be too sweet, but I still liked certain elements of it.  This Forest Mother emerged, and was much more at peace than her predecessor, done 13 years earlier.  With her two guard coyotes and snake at her feet, a rabbit in her arms, and two birds perched on her shoulder, she has an air of calmness and wisdom and seems to be saying,"I'll take care of you wild things, not to worry". When I compared the two, it was interesting that this Forest Mother would be so much more positive than the one done in 2008. I think Forest Mother is less about the state of the big world, and more about my smaller world, a considerably more pleasant place to be than it was 13 years ago.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Transformation 2020

Coyote Mother started out as Girl with Two Dogs WalkingI loved the fierceness of the girl, her blouse covered in red splashes(blood?), and the two tough little snarly dogs next to her large bare feet.  I worked for several weeks fine tuning the figure:  The head made from a grafettied wall with just the right lips, the two small eyes next to the large grafettied eye, the hair made from snake's bodies, and even the angle of the leashes had to be adjusted and then readjusted--not too tight, not too loose.  Finished, I was ready to glue it down. But then, when presented to my husband, it got a lukewarm response and I backed out with images of the piece sitting in my storage for the next twenty years, unloved and unseen.

Next came this image:  Woman with Two Dogs Walking.  Dogs stayed the same, the hands and leashes stayed the same(although I made the hands smaller) all else changed.  Again, I spent a long time fine tuning the image, printing out head after head to get just the right feeling of  bewilderment and confusion as the two dogs took off in different directions.  What could I keep from Girl and what had to go? The lovely Red splashed top went, the hug bare-feet, the perfect little green miniskirt, all  back into their prospective boxes to (hopefully) be used another time.  Finished at last, I called in my husband again, and, while I didn't get a lukewarm response, I didn't get wild approval either.  Then, when I compared the two, I actually liked Girl better, not quite so saccharine.  Despondent, depressed, ready to throw in the towel, I thought to try one more time.

Coyote Mother unfolded herself, and a mother coyote, out for a walk with her two rambunctious pups made her appearance. The hands, the dogs and leashes(but not the dog's heads)and the basic central format stayed the same, but all else changed.  This time the piece came fairly quickly, decisively.  The little snakes on the ground showed up to remind us that you can't ever be too watchful as the pups check in with their mom, looking for reassurance and guidance. The trees and the animals, everything in the image, are all made from and of nature. Then today, while working in my studio, hearing our dogs barking hysterically, I glanced out the window to see a male and female coyote loping easily along on the other side of the our fence. And I knew that this time, at last, I had gotten it right.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Humpty Dumpty 2009

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Hubris:  excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Hubris, to me, is one of those words that doesn't sound like what it is, probably because I want to assign humble to it, and it's the opposite of humble.  To me, this image is about hubris, my own included, but I can't help but see it everywhere.  I did the painting soon after the melt down of 2008.  Talk about hubris!  People confident that they could make money hand over fist to the detriment of us all.  In 2016 our hubris in assuming Hilary Clinton would win the presidential election--we were all so confident that our side was right and would win.  Arrogance in calling the supporters of the other side, "deplorables" as if they didn't matter and didn't have ears. 2020 and we have a pandemic--people assuming that they won't be susceptible to this terrible terrible virus, that, like a cobra, hidden in the grass, can let 100 people go by but then strike and kill the 101st, and kill them a horrible way.  2020--the presidential election--this time the hubris of the sitting president who is so arrogant and confident of himself that he completely ignores the terrible virus and encourages flagrant disregard of the most basic of safety precautions. It causes him to lose the election.  And then hubris in the biggest arena of all--a civilization that isn't taking care of it's home, the planet.  Arrogance in assuming it will be just fine as we pull the planet to pieces bit by bit.  And this will be the biggest, hardest fall of them all, and we might just not be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

After the Operation 1984

For most of my adult life I've had respiratory issues: bad seasonal and food allergies and then sinusitis after sinusitis, about one a year since I was twenty-eight--almost 40 years worth. On Nov.16 I'm having nasal surgery to try and correct some of those problems. The surgeon will go in and shift things around and trim the turbinates, altogether about 90 minutes total time if there are no complications. I'm not looking forward to Monday, but what I'm really dreading are the days that follow. For about a week I will have to breath through my mouth and will be limited in what I can do physically(no bending over, no lifting of anything over 10 pounds, no jogging, nor horse back riding etc.), and of course the pain and discomfort of having your nose sliced up and rearranged. Yesterday I met with the surgeon and realized how much I was turning over to this man: trusting that he will do a good job, that he will be capable, and kind, and, most importantly, knowing that he will do the his very best to take care of my poor, troublesome nose.   

***addendum:  The surgery was cancelled because the hospital didn't get the result of my covid test in time(I was on the gurney all ready to go in my hospital gown and hospital socks all paper work filled out).  It was rescheduled for the following Friday, but but then Covid had gotten even more out of control and I decided to cancel it.  So I sit with my nose intact, waiting to see if I will reschedule it for sometime in 2021.  Meanwhile, my wonderful surgeon, is scheduling five months out, and as of Jan. 1 will no longer take my insurance(Medicare).

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Man with a Baby 2001

In July of 1987, I delivered a baby girl.  She was my first child, another daughter, Teal, came three years later.  Now that first baby is having her own baby, due any day, already a few days past his due date.  I think back to that day, 33 years ago, and think what a huge seismic shift that baby made to my life.  Everything changed and was never the same again.  She was born before we had computers, or cell phones, before we had email or social media, before we worried over climate change or politics gone terribly awry.  But mostly, she changed the way I saw the world, moving from the center of it, off to the side, where the baby, and later her sister would seat themselves, front and center.  I learned from my baby how to be a good parent, because I had to be, and I learned from watching my husband, what a good father was, because I hadn't had that in my life. I learned from those babies what unconditional love meant because I hadn't known that either. I'm not sure what changes being a grandmother will bring for me, but I know that, for my daughter, her new baby will make her life richer and fuller beyond all imagining.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Troubled Dreams 1994

Winescapes with Holly Roberts


This past month Deborah Klochko, the director of the Museum of Photograpic Arts(MOPA)in San Diego, did a Zoom interview with me for their series, "Winescapes", a series of interviews with people involved in the world of photography, either as artists, curators, or collectors.  It's just under an hour, and it was a delightful interview for me, with Deborah taking me back to the early days of my career up until the present.  Her questions were thoughtful, insightful, and fun and we illustrated each time period with images along with pictures of my studio.  If you have the time, grab a snack and a drink and settle in and give it a watch.  And if you have more time and love photography, there are 8 more interviews to give you a better understanding of the contemporary world of photography.

Winescapes with Holly Roberts