"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Friday, February 29, 2008

douglas

Douglas, lower left corner (photo by Ann)

One of the young people who grabbed the attention of all seven of us when we were at St. Mary Kevin’s in December is a twenty-one year old named Douglas. He is handsome and has a dazzling smile. Douglas represents those children at the orphanage who are neither “true” orphans or even “half” orphans. As far as he knows, both his mom and dad are alive. They are just not in his life, and they haven’t been for many years. He has fought hard to survive and has managed to emerge from his harsh circumstances with a warm, gentle personality, a generous nature, a fabulous talent on the drums, as well as a kind and nurturing attitude toward the young ones at the orphanage. He helped Ann in the play therapy sessions most days we were there. He was her translator; he also quickly became a shoulder for the broken young orphans to lean on and cry on.

Basically, we all fell in love with this kid.

I have received a request from Douglas. He will soon be graduating from [the equivalent of] high school and wants to become a nurse. Given his sweet nature, this does not surprise me.

He has asked Change the Truth to help him with the fees necessary for nursing school. He does have a sponsor currently, but the fees being paid only cover secondary school, which is much less expensive. I told him I would try to gather more sponsors for him so we could make up the difference.

This would clearly be a home run for both Change the Truth and for Douglas. As I look down the road and imagine this dear young man going to work each day at a hospital or clinic, having fulfilled his dreams in spite of some horrible odds, I get a pretty big smile on my face. Think about what you may be able to do to help achieve his goal. If you’d like to make a donation and earmark it for Douglas’ nursing education, please contact me. If you have someone in mind who may want to help, please pass along this blog post.

Here is Douglas’s story, in his own words:

"I was born in November, 1986 in the western part of Uganda, a district known as Mubende.

Mainly my story at times makes me sad and weep whenever I am trying to testify to people. My mum left me at my home when I was only 2 yrs old. The best I can remember is that she was chocolate skinned. Dad found the situation difficult to raise me alone so he got me a step mum, believe it was not only one step mum but more than one. This was like from fire to the sauce pan (made matters worse) cause my step mums mistreated me to the extent of burning me during my childhood.

I was forced to run away from home because my dad did nothing about my situation yet my life was in danger. A friend of mine took me to his home and the parents welcomed me. However after some time the parents could not take it any more because I was growing and my needs increasing. But I thank God my friend new about Rose Mary and St. Mary Kevin through rumors, so he took me there.

That was 1998 when I was 12 yrs. Mama Rose Mary welcomed me so much and gave me a place to stay even if she had not enough money. I studied up to this level of school and now my results are back soon.

I am so happy to be at St. Mary Kevin because I am more comfortable than ever before. Thanks Mama Gloria, Friends of Change the Truth, Mama Rose Mary and families.

More to that. Mama Gloria, everybody at St. Mary Kevin has a story to tell even I my self. It has not been easy. Rose Mary and Joseph and family have done alot in people's lifes despite of their little earnings. Now that we have you we have hope, we feel loved and comfortable because you are our angles straight from heaven. Thanks alot to all our friends of Change the Truth. We have a family to belong to.”

And this added piece, from Rose Mary:

“During 2007, Douglas sat for his Senior 4 examinations. He is currently waiting for his results.

After completion of Senior 4, one has two options:

a) Continue to Senior 5 and eventually to University, or

b) Join vocational skills training, i.e. nursing, teaching, hotel management, etc.

Douglas has opted for vocational training and is interested in taking a course in nursing. This course takes two and a half years, equivalent to five semesters. The cost per semester is one million and two hundred thousand shillings per semester. This means the total cost of the course is US $3,550 spread over two and a half years. (There are extra costs including uniforms and some medical equipment.)

The course will start November, 2008 and can be undertaken at a number of institutions in and around Kampala.”

Thursday, February 28, 2008

birthday


Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have celebrated number eight-five, though it is hard now for me to imagine her that old. All my siblings and their families, Eddie, our children and I would have most likely descended upon our folks’ house to celebrate with a velvet red cake and a few bottles of chardonnay.

I have missed her sorely, especially these past few weeks since I have been sick. Back in the day, she would have shown up at our doorstep, bright and cheerful and ready to do the work of taking care of my house, my kids and me. I could have rested my head on her shoulder.

Anita was a beautiful woman; I know that I did not/ do not possess the grace, elegance and style she did, and I think I was pretty young when I figured that out.

After she died in 2005, I wrote a piece about being with her the last few days of her life. This is an excerpt from that essay; it is about my mother’s hands, a subject matter that never fails to intrigue me, regardless of whose hands they are. My mom’s were pretty special, though:

“I need to mention my mother’s hands. They were long and slender and ridiculously graceful. They always seemed poised to begin conducting the musical piece she was hearing in her head. When she hummed or sang aloud, her hands danced elegantly in front of her. She played the piano and the cello when she was younger. The sight of those hands gliding back and forth across the bridge of the cello, her baby finger held delicately in the air, always made me feel slightly ashamed. My hands were thick and small, good for scaling trees and catching baseballs. There was always dirt beneath my fingernails. My mother’s hands were like porcelain – as white and smooth and tapered as you could possibly imagine.”

Happy B-day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

imagine

At the risk of losing all credibility with my readers, I am admitting here and now that one of my most embarrassing guilty pleasures is that I like to watch American Idol.

Still there?

Last night was the guys' turn to sing. There isn’t a lot of talent that wows me this year, so I was actually doing some work on my laptop, leaving the show to simply become background (noise, music – depended on the contestant.)

The last kid to sing – and he is a kid… I think he’s all of 16 or 17 years old - caused me to turn off the computer. Then he brought tears to my eyes and, then, well, he kind of brought me to my knees, as they say.

David Archuleta sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.” When was the last time you listened to it and really paid attention to the words? When was the last time a very young person had you believing that everything will be OK if we just close our eyes and, well… you know the rest.

“Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one”

John Lennon, 1971

Take a couple of minutes out of your day to give it a listen . I don’t think you’ll be sorry you did.

(Oh, and when I got up off my knees, I watched the debate.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

food


One of the most important truths we learned when we traveled to St. Mary Kevin’s in December is this: the children are hungry more often than not and offering them three meals a day is often a questionable proposition.

Since our return, we have been frank about this and have managed to receive some substantial donations from people who would like to address the food problem head-on.

Because of the kindness of these donors, Change the Truth has been able to commit to contributing $1000 US each month for at least the next year for the purchase of food. In my most recent missive from Rose Mary, she addressed the issue:

“We received the February funds and we withdrew that money to purchase food – rice, corn flour, potatoes, sugar, beans & soy, meat & milk, etc. The food stocks will last three weeks, up to mid-March. We are working on provisional plans to start a food farm upcountry late this year, or early next year. First we have to prepare figures to show that the project will be cost-effective (relative to purchase of ready food products from markets in town); then we need agricultural input on the best seeds and the planting cycle; and finally we need a small-scale feasibility study to prove.”

This is why I love working with Rose Mary and Joseph. They explore every possibility, every angle. If it makes more sense for the CTT funds to go into a self-sustaining farm, then so be it! I trust them to determine which option will be the best.

Some mornings while we were there, the children complained that they were hungry. We realized it would be asking a lot of them to sit down to an art project or a therapy session on an empty stomach, so we waited patiently along with them to see what would unfold. Soon, we would see the older boys dragging tree limbs toward the cooking area. Then a fire would be lit, followed by the long process of mixing and cooking the porridge, and finally, the clanging of a stick hitting a metal can and children filing toward the huge blackened pot with their plates in hand.

We learned later that from day to day, it is an uncertainty as to if/ how often that might happen. The seven of us knew it needed to be urgently addressed by Change the Truth as soon as we returned home.


As you know, there are lots of ways to help the hungry. I personally have chosen to help these 150 orphans in Kajjansi, Uganda. Eddie and I also help the hungry in Kansas City by contributing to and working for Harvesters . There is an organization called Mazon which is a Jewish response to hunger to which we also donate; they help hungry families across the country.

There is so much you can do – in your own backyard and even a few backyards away.

Imagine waiting for the clanging, and it doesn’t come.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

siskind

Here’s a treat: pictures from Aaron Siskind’s series entitled “Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation.” He made these around the time I was born.

I have always loved them. Well, I love all of his work. I also really liked him. I was lucky enough to do some business with him when I was a gallery owner. He reminded me of my dad.

Anyhow, I am still trying to get back on my feet after the surgery and just couldn’t resist the parallel.











Wednesday, February 20, 2008

a portrait


I think it was my son-in-law, Sam, who told me that anyone can write for Wikipedia. I don’t know if that’s true, but if so, some someone wrote this definition of the word “portrait”:

“A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the person. For this reason, in photography a portrait is generally not a snapshot, but a composed image of a person in a still position. A portrait often shows a person looking directly at the painter or photographer, in order to most successfully engage the subject with the viewer.”

I consider myself a portrait photographer.

But I often make portraits that are about anything but the person in the picture. In fact, that’s probably when my portraits are most successful.

I know, you’re thinking… Gloria, the Percocets…

But think about it. How much of ourselves do we project onto the work we make? I say: a lot!

Andrea Modica once told me she believed every picture she has ever made has been a self-portrait. (Look up her work if you aren’t familiar with it. She’s amazing.) I agree with her.

This image was made one afternoon when I was wandering around the classrooms at St. Mary Kevin’s. They were empty, as school was not in session. I love the rooms; they have dirt floors, old wooden benches and even older desks, windows that filter in the bright African sunlight and best of all, those blackboards. The blackboards aren’t like the ones we’re used to in America. They are actually painted onto the wall. No erasers needed. In time, words pile upon words and drawings upon drawings. Layers and layers of thoughts, ideas, images, expressions, dates and names eventually take on a life of their own. The blackboards transform into swaths of light, punctuation, joy, repetition, poetry, movement and endless streams of time. (Eventually, a new “chalkboard” is painted over the old one, probably once there is so much dense information on it that no new stuff can be deciphered.)

To me, they become starry nights.

Or patterns on fabric - black velvet or chenille.

Or a sentence to be diagramed.

Or pin-prick pictures.

Or a musical score.

This young woman was seated on one of the old benches in front of the blackboard in one of the classrooms. The room was dark, and she was just sitting there quietly, all alone. I had never seen her before, and quite frankly, I never saw her again after I made this picture. We didn’t even speak. So you see, I knew nothing about her.

Is the picture about me, then? The decisions I was making at that moment, the way I was responding to the room, the light, the blackboard, the chance and somewhat magical encounter with this young woman? The way I feel about myself as a woman, as a being on this planet?

Monday, February 18, 2008

readers inform

I have heard of several celebs doing good work in Africa, but was especially moved by something a reader sent me about Natalie Portman. I love what she has to say about her wish for the future of our planet. It’s something we travelers talked about on our mission trip in December: that in Uganda we were always seeing people helping people in their community, taking care of a one another... and how we wished we could say the same about day to day living in the US.

“’I understand that people might be jaded,’ said Portman. ‘I know I get turned off by most celebrity joining-in efforts. But I’m interested in this because it’s about diverting some of the unwarranted attention we have in our celebrity-crazed culture and passing it on to something else. We can give people a voice who would not normally have one.’

The Listen Campaign website includes a video of Portman visiting a young 17-year-old boy named Nicholas in Uganda – an HIV-positive AIDS orphan who is trying to raise his sister and three brothers.

‘The thing that upset me most is that we weren’t taught about this stuff at school,’ said Portman. ‘We weren’t taught that half the world lives on less than $3 a day.’

Although she has had a lot of success in films, the young actress has thought about trading the position in for work in a non-profit organization, and claims that her travels through some of the poorest countries in the world has really opened her eyes about life, ambition, and true happiness.

And if she has one wish for the future of the planet, it would be this:

‘People [should] pay attention, look to their neighbors. I think we’ve lost so much community. I think that’s one of the things I’ve appreciated most seeing in these villages is just the sense of community, where an entire family – an entire community – takes care of each other. And we’ve really lost that. And when you lose that on a personal level, you lose that on a global level as well. But I see a lot of people really wanting to do positive things in the world. And I feel that it’s like a new generation. You can watch the news and it feels like it’s the end of the world, very apocalyptic. So I just try and find people around me who are doing positive things.’”

Also word about the film “War/Dance” From another reader:

11/9/2007: WAR/DANCE Reviewed in LA Times
By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

"'It is difficult for people to believe our story,' 14-year-old Dominic says at the beginning of 'War/Dance,' an enormously emotional and spirit-raising documentary. 'But if we don't tell you, you won't know.' And if you don't know, you will be missing something quite special.

To make a memorable documentary, a film like 'Hoop Dreams' or 'Spellbound' that can't be forgotten once seen, you have to be more than gifted, you need an instinct for an unusual story and, frankly, you must have luck on your side. 'War/Dance,' co-directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, has all that and more.

Winner of the documentary directing award at Sundance and audience awards at festivals around the country, 'War/Dance' is as irresistible as the rhythms of African music on its soundtrack. It's a fantasy set in real life, and, like all great fantasies, its moments of light are set against a backdrop of darkness and even horror.

The setting in this case is Uganda, more specifically northern Uganda, where a terrifying group called the Lord's Resistance Army has been in rebellion against the government for about 20 years, often resorting to the use of abducted child soldiers to stay in business. Members of the north's Acholi tribe have been forced to live in war zone displacement camps so vulnerable to the rebels they are under round the clock military protection.

Uganda also is a country where music and dance are so important that capital city Kampala hosts an annual National Music Competition, for which all of the country's 20,000 schools compete to enter. As the competition's director says, 'it's the Olympics as far as these kids are concerned.'

These two aspects of Uganda don't ordinarily meet. But in 2005 the primary school in the remote Patongo refugee camp, with students who are largely war orphans or rescued child soldiers, won its regional competition and, for the first time, headed to Kampala to compete in the nationals.

Co-director Sean Fine, who served as cinematographer, spent three months in Patongo, observing the participants as they prepared for the big event and getting close enough to the kids to have three of them trust him with their own dreadful stories.

Rose, a 13-year-old orphan, saw things no one, child or not, should witness. Nancy, age 14, kept her younger siblings together as a family after their father was murdered and their mother abducted. And Dominic, a devoted xylophone player also 14, did things during his time as a child soldier he's been unable to tell anyone.

Though 'War/Dance' at times overdramatizes already dramatic material, when these children relate their experiences directly to the camera, the effect is overpowering.

The remarkable thing about 'War/Dance' is the therapeutic, restorative effect singing and dancing has on these understandably somber young people. Like turning on a switch, performing enables them to recapture their true selves. 'Singing makes you forget,' one of them says, and another insists, 'in our daily lives there must be music. Life becomes so good.'

Though the national competition is in eight categories, 'War/Dance' concentrates on three of them: Western choral performance, instrumental and traditional dance, where the students embrace the Bwola, the dance of the Acholi. "This is handed down to us by our ancestors," they say. 'Even war cannot take it from us.'

As the Patongo students head off to the nationals, the film's natural climax, they are excited to see 'what peace looks like' and intent on proving themselves. 'We are going to show them,' says Dominic, 'that we are giants.' Win, lose or draw, 'War/Dance' shows us that they already are."

Thanks to my readers and friends, Gail and Ann, for the good info!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

fishing

Over the course of these past many months as a blogger, I have written about my wonderful kiddos, but haven’t told you too much about the fifth member of our little family. It’s high time.

Eddie and I met over the summer when I was seventeen. He was twenty-two. We were on our first date, the movie “2001, A Space Odyssey” – my roommate in tow – by the end of September; we were pretty much smitten by October; we were in love by December.

He wore flannel shirts and a beard that touched his chest. His dad would offer every now and then (in his thick Romanian accent) to give him a dollar per hair if he’d shave, but Eddie wouldn’t hear of it. He was in the process of “finding himself” and was looking in the sink at the student union where he washed dishes, in his reflection in the windows of cars he washed at the Bee Clean Car Wash, in the monkey cages at the primate center where he did research and, finally in the tax preparation class he enrolled in at an H&R Block office down the street from the university.

When he retired three years ago, he was a vice president at Henry and Richard’s place.

Eddie and I have been on high roads and low roads and all the curvy ones in between. Thirty-five years after that first date - with Judy sitting in between us at the movie theatre - we couldn’t be better, thank you.


This guy has never drifted from my corner. He has always cheered me on, he has always given me a leg up, he has always made me laugh, he has always listened, he has always let me be quiet.

I have heard on more than a handful of occasions from my women friends, “Puhleeeeeeeze, can we clone him?”

This past week he has steered me back on course after my surgery. He has not left my side for a second. But here is the coolest part:

A good friend said that for now I am a fish swimming along with only one fin. Eddie and I both thought that was a sweet and endearing image to hold in our thoughts. I pretty much let it go once I heard it. But he mulled it over for a day or two and finally said to me, “But you know, you’re still the best fish in the sea.”

Need I say more about the good fortune I had to snare this guy??

Friday, February 15, 2008

mother and child


Like most of you artists, I am often asked to donate work to this or this auction or fundraiser (a subject definitely worth discussing at some point on this blog.) I am selective about it these days. One that I am most proud of recently is a piece that I have donated to Jewish Family Services. If a donor makes a gift at a certain level, he/she gets one of these. It is photograph I made with my Diana (plastic camera) the year before my mom died. Jewish Family Services produced a beautifully designed direct mail piece about their annual fundraising event featuring the photograph they are offering to contributors. On it was a reproduction of my image, "Mother and Child", and my description of it:

"It’s a simple statue bought on a trip to Israel many years ago. It has been on the hearth in my family’s den since I was young; I’ve always considered it part of the landscape.

When my mother became ill, I realized that this special place, my childhood home, was not always going to be there for me. I began documenting its details. The smallest of things were suddenly full of new meanings. Even the unassuming metal sculpture took on added significance.

For my parents, it symbolized the love of parent and child, a compelling force in our close-knit family. As a girl growing up, it was comforting to glance over at it and be reminded how lucky I was to have the embrace and support of my family. And now, as a wife, the mother of two and the child of an aging father, these lessons have come full circle.

This is a simple photograph made with a toy camera. What it connotes, however, is rich, complicated and ever so powerful."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

tuesday night

For the past several days now, I have been moving from being asleep to being alert to being groggy and to being all things in between. Being on pain meds makes it difficult to keep track of what is real and what is not; it is also tricky trying to figure out what I have already heard or said or done.

I am a person who is easily hypnotized. My imagination is pretty vivid; I can run with a suggested thought or idea and quickly give it a life of its own. (According to people in the “fear of flying” business, my imagination is what gets the best of me when I am on a bumpy flight.)

I have a colorful, plentiful array of dreams each night.

Throw all this together, and voila! You get a pajama-clad patient experiencing past and present fade-ins and fade-outs by the bucketful. The movies that have been rolling in my head since I woke up in the recovery room have really been entertaining. There is no sense of editing; the pictures overlap and move backward and forward without any warning.

I am a five year old - who just had her tonsils removed - enjoying a visit in the hospital from her curly headed boyfriend, Harry B. He brings me a gold birdcage in which is perched a plastic green warbler. Each time I open the cage door, the bird lets out a sweet, high-pitched whistle, and Harry B. shoots me a lopsided smile that is missing a couple of front teeth. A few thoughts (hours, days, doses?) later, I am treating my grandmother, cousin and sister to cheeseburgers, fries and vanilla milkshakes at my hometown drug store/soda joint with the ten-dollar bill I recently found on the sidewalk. Waking up on another occasion, I am riding my bike home from elementary school, then from a Sociology class to my tiny college dorm room.

You get the idea.

Time seems to be warped right now. Everything runs together.

Some of these scenes are “real” and some are made up. The night after surgery I was standing alone on a street corner in a small town very late at night. I was wearing a hatbox on my head. I’m fairly certain this image falls into the made up category, but then, it’s kind of fun not giving a lot of thought to which scene goes where on the continuum of my life experiences.

OK, I know, you would like for me to be less abstract and fill you in on how things went during surgery and how I’m doing now.

The surgery went a bit longer than expected – four hours. The great news is that the sentinel node biopsy revealed that there is no invasive cancer present. Only four nodes had to removed; they were the ones that took up the dye. As soon as the breast surgeon did her job, she passed the scalpel to the plastic surgeon who began reconstruction by putting a tissue expander in place. In about a month, I will begin receiving saline injections. Then the expander will be replaced with an implant. From what I understand, this whole process takes about three months and is no walk in the park.

So, it really is good news all in all. No chemo, no radiation. Thank you, each and every one of you who kept me in your thoughts and prayers and who have helped me get this far. You have no idea what a huge source of comfort and encouragement you have been.

As far as how I am doing now? The pain meds are masking the reality of it, that’s for sure. I am scheduled to give a talk about my work this Sunday. I am hoping to be able to pull it off. It’s giving me something to reach for, plan for, and that is a good thing.

Excuse me… time to drift off again!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

floaters or sinkers?

You don’t have to be Jewish to know that chicken soup can make you feel better right away, especially during cold and flu season.

However, it definitely does become something Jewish when the discussion turns to the MAKING of the soup (and at this competitive level, we’re really talking about matzo ball/chicken noodle soup.) The creation of the matzo balls themselves is a true art form. They can run the gamut from small to medium to large. There are those that rise gently to the surface of the broth and those that assemble at the bottom of the bowl. Some are chewy; others light and fluffy like clouds.


Let the games begin! A soup competition has kicked into high gear these days in Kansas City. And my family and I appear to be the lucky beneficiaries!

Those who are proud of their recipes and the execution of them are not shy about confessing that theirs is the best. It just so happens that we are friends with several of these soup mavens, and, lucky for us, the shelves in our refrigerator started to fill up with this liquid gold as soon as I came out of surgery. In the photo above, Sondra proudly displays her soup before slipping the containers into our fridge.

Not only is a traditional chicken soup good, it is also really good FOR you! It is not called Jewish penicillin for nothing. Thank you, my friends, for shooting me up!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

luck


I stole an issue of Time magazine from my doctor’s office last week. (We get Newsweek these days.) I learned some shocking and sobering stuff, mostly about breast cancer and its status in developing nations.

First of all, did you know that an estimated one million new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the world this year? About 500,000 new and existing patients will die from the disease. Feel like you know way too many women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer lately? The fact is that one woman in eight in the US comes home from a meeting with her doctor with this grim news.

According to the article in Time, breast cancer used to be a “malady that mostly affected white, affluent women in the industrial hubs of North America and Western Europe.” Now, it’s everywhere. By 2020, this article goes on to say, “70% of all breast cancer cases worldwide will be in developing nations.”

But, as you have probably already guessed, detections and care are not proportionate worldwide. “Half of all Indian women with the disease go entirely without treatment. In South Africa, only 5% of cancers are caught in the earliest phase of the disease. In the US, that figure is 50%.” In places like desperately poor Kenya, if you don't have the means to travel overseas for treatment, a woman just basically "sits and waits for her death."

And, of course, cultural understandings of the disease differ wildly. “Americans may live in a world of pink ribbons and ‘Livestrong’ bracelets, but in other parts of the globe, breast cancer is still a shameful secret. Every three minutes an Egyptian woman is informed that she has the illness, and one of her first fears is that her husband will leave her. In India, women with breast cancer may be forced to use different plates and spoons because of the widespread belief that the disease is contagious.”

And so, of course, I think of my African women friends as I go through this experience… as I go for my mammogram and needle biopsy and lumpectomy and, tomorrow, mastectomy. As I share openly with everyone, as I am not shunned, as I get the surgery and treatment I need.

I know it is unequal; I know I happen to be on the lucky end.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

geometry again

I continue to print the work from Africa.



Monday, February 04, 2008

geometry

"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

Even though Cartier-Bresson dismissed photography as anything of much importance in his life and in his later years actually abandoned it in favor of painting and drawing, he has had a major influence in the history of the medium.

He has also had a major influence on me.

At an opening of mine a couple of years ago, a lawyer friend who has no training in or real passion for art said to me, “You must have been really good in geometry!”

I was taken aback by Rosie’s comment. I had struggled through all my math classes back in middle and high school and never did all that well in any of them… with the exception of geometry. I loved it and actually did OK in it.

I didn’t realize it showed up in my work as a photographer until Rosie called it to my attention that night at the gallery.

I am certainly unaware of the fact that I am thinking (?) in a geometric way when making certain pictures; I am always pleasantly surprised when it becomes an obvious and consistent thread in the work.

"For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to ‘give a meaning’ to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression." -Henri Cartier-Bresson














Sunday, February 03, 2008

sunday morning

I have a neighbor who I usually only see when I’m walking the dog and he’s driving by in his car. Every now and then he stops, then rolls down his window and tells me about his daughter. It’s usually about a landmark event in her life.

Yesterday, he rolled down his window and said, “M. is turning 15 today.”

I congratulated him, bagged Sam’s poop and walked on home. I thought about the last time my neighbor rolled down his window and tossed out a proud tidbit about his lovely daughter.

“M. started high school today.”

That seems like just a few days ago, but I guess it's been about five months now.

Before that, it was, “M. graduated from middle school today, can you believe it?”

As I was walking back home yesterday, I realized that I can always count on this particular neighbor to mark time for me. Sure, I have a calendar and even a planner. But when each day just sort of rolls gently and evenly into the next, it’s easy to feel as if time doesn’t really pass.

My neighbor calls to my attention the thunderous and quick movement that time truly is.

Friday, February 01, 2008

save the date


The Change the Truth Friendraiser/Fundraiser is over four months away, but I am now in the process of printing the “save the date” cards and will mail them next week. Can’t help it – I’m a Virgo… we Virgos are blessed (cursed?) with the need to be at the head of the class when it comes to organizational skills. (You should see my sock drawer.)

The event is scheduled to take place at the very cool Screenland Theatre in Kansas City on June 12th. We will have African food, dancing and drumming, as well as the showing of Lynne’s film about the orphanage and our trip there.


There will be shopping, too! We will be auctioning paintings and drawings made by the children during art class with Lonnie and Jane this past December. Some of the artwork will take the form of greeting cards, and they will be available for purchase, as well. African crafts will be strategically placed by our checkout stand for those of you who are known to give in to impulse shopping.

I may have one really big surprise about the evening to announce in the near future, so stay tuned!


Please be sure to send me your snail mail address if you are not currently on our mailing list. That way I can send you a spiffy save the date card, and later, an invitation to the real thing. Consider sending me the addresses of your friends, your aunts and uncles, your boss, your distant cousin and your next-door neighbor if you think they may have an interest in joining in on the fun.

Also, if you would like to help us plan and/or work at the event, let me know that. I guarantee we’ll have a good time!