Fate Favors the Fearless

Once upon a time there was a red screen door on a 90 year old house. It was an old and ordinary door, soon removed, and thought itself done for… but to an artist nothing is ordinary.


There is an element of madness to be found in genius some say, however I think that stems from most people not being able to comprehend the process. It seems odd for most to see a girl storing away things like old tissue paper, and setting aside a useless and decrepit old door; but I see the magic and potential in these things… This is an inherited and taught sight learned from both my mom and my dad, who raised me in a home that was nestled on the banks of a river, and was known by everyone for the oddities in the garden and the interior that presented itself more as a museum than a house. My husband by contrast is polar opposite, and loves nothing more than a minimalist, cozy simplicity with a home donning newer and more modern attire. He has sacrificed that, shown infinite and tried patience with my chaotic collection of creative clutter. Some of that I like to think is because he knows there is a genius to my madness when I begin encasing old doors in tissue paper, mostly though it is just because he is quite possibly the only person in the world who has ever loved and accepted me exactly for who I am and encouraged that endlessly.


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Even from Afghanistan he hears those words. I’m quite sure it haunts him in dreams… and yet even from Afghanistan he’s still there to help. I am good at making things pretty, and the aesthetic is often my only focus and concern, the logistics and engineering fall to him. Still after 13 years together he knows me by heart, and so even in the building plans for how to steady the frame for a door, {which he very wisely passed the torch to Rob before he left lest I attempt to do it myself} he includes thought into what he knows I will do with it… like wanting to hand trinkets and little branches off the sides for more intricacy and intrigue in the final image. It is a dance perfected with time, to be in a relationship so long with someone that you can in one measure express both your frustration and sense of annoyance and your genuine consideration for their feelings simultaneously… Fucking Trinkets and Crap is his way of saying I hate you for making life more complicated and asking me to build you nonsense, but I still knew you’d want to hang things off the side and took that into consideration in the design. That’s Love.


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I believe the foundation of creativity lies in 4 things, the first of which is to be in a place that makes you feel inspired. Mackenzie and I spent 3 days redesigning the studio to encourage imagination.


Surround yourself with things that inspire you in the forms you wish to speak artistry fluently in. I draw inspiration from music videos, movies and plays, paintings, sculptures, and most definitely books. I’ve had a love affair with books since I was a child. Even when we had nothing I remember that I had deep set windowsills and I would pull the curtain closed and entrap myself in it, lost for hours within stories. For as long as I can remember I have had a love affair with written language and stories. And unlike the second hand, and third and forth hand furniture, and toys and clothes, which were worn and devalued, the older the book the more magic it held for me. The yellowed pages, the fragrance of aged parchment, and leather bindings, each were ancient treasures to me, and sacred secrets. They were doors to other worlds and lives. What has become all the assets of my success as an adult made me odd as a child. Still, to this day I have books everywhere, boxes and stacks of them, and the ones that most inspire me earn a place of honor on the book shelf Michael built me in the studio. The person I love built me a home for the things I love… inspiration comes by surrounding yourself with the things you love.


It’s funny we fight in our childhood to be popular, fit in, and dread being thought of as a nerd… in hindsight I laugh. The nerds were really intelligent. They understood things with ease that others couldn’t grasp… they were excited about whatever they were into, like really excited, like puppy at the door I’m-so-happy-you’re-home! excited. They loved things passionately and openly and were enthusiastic to do them all the time, and talk about them with whoever would listen… Because I was a nerd in school I didn’t fit the ranks or stand on the pedestals, which is awesome looking back because there must have been so much pressure to stay in that little box, to play the role all the time lest you be turned out. Because I didn’t have that pressure I got to focus on what I loved and be exactly who I was. Those things painted as negatives are the biggest positives as an adult now: I am intelligent, I am passionately excited and happy all the time about what I am doing in my life, and I share that, except now instead of being shunned for it people get excited with me, the enthusiasm is contagious, and it fills them too. It gives them permission to take that and turn it to the things that impassion them. I look at Mackenzie who I am ever so fond of because I see so much of myself at her age in her, but with more potential, and a much stronger foundation beneath her to build on because she has such a good family and home, and love and resources at her disposal. She struggles like I did with the pressure to fit in and be a social butterfly as girls her age are taught to be by their peers, and she fights the current of that. When she comes here she comes alive and fills the project, the studio, and her heart with life and when she is excited and creative and silly I think she’s one of the most charming creatures I’ve ever encountered, I genuinely believe if someone had seen that in me at her age, I would have moved mountains, and because I see it in her she ignites and in turn brings so much to this project. She’s been such a light through some of the harder moments of the last year with illness and deployment, and my children adore her… selfishly I also keep her around them so they not only have good role models as who to become as an adult, but who I hope they are in the transition of growing.


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For me when I seek to inspire, I must be inspired, and part of that is to have tools that are magic. Can I sit and type at my laptop, most certainly. However Love for me is defined as the kindness and compassion of my grandmother, I find magic in antiquities, and so to have things like beautiful old quill pens, and my grandmother’s old type writer inspire far more greatness from me. I think love has fingerprints it leaves behind, that’s why inanimate objects carry such emotional connection, sentimental value comes from the little imprints love leaves upon them. If can not create magic without first believing in it. One of my very favorite movies as a child was ‘the Last Unicorn’ in which if the person looking at her didn’t truly believe in Unicorns with all their heart they would only see a white mare, a horse, nothing more. For me, if I want to create something magnificent I need to do so with tools I find so, and in collaboration with people I find so.


A Witch, a Wizard, a Magician, a Sorcerer, a Mage, a Fairy… an Artist. To my mind an Artist fits in with these things, because we are magic, we create things that did not exist, beautiful magical things that enchant, and captivate, and change people… This is a brush I have had since I was a child… it’s worn, and the bristles are tired and disheveled, but if I were to have a magic wand it would be this brush. It speaks the language of my mind fluently, and knows all the resources of my heart intimately, and can draw from them into itself and release them to be immortalized in beautiful visual embodiment. I love the immediacy and power of my camera, and how it interprets what I see in a very artful way, but this brush says things in forgotten languages while a camera is a visual ballet of what I see, painting and creating artistry is a boundless interpretive dance that you are only seeing the silhouettes of, backlit through stained glass. It’s almost a meditative trance like connection for me, and often this brush has shown me things about my thoughts and how I felt that I would not have otherwise embraced or understood. It is an old friend.


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Photographer: Photo – Light. Ographer – Story Teller. The adage of a photo being worth 1000 words comes from the truth that a photographer writes their stories with refractions of light. We tell the entire tale in a single instance, a fraction of a second. An Artist? They see what is beautiful and special and captivating about everything. The creation of the door, quite simply for me was the ability to accumulate a collection of things deemed ordinary, in some cases broken, of little value or importance to anyone, and create something monumental of them. I think this gift to see what is extraordinary in seemingly insignificant things has not only aided my artistic aspirations but mentoring endeavors… With the Arcanum I now have more than 20 apprentices, from USA, Russia, Romania, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, India, and it is amazing to see how when you see the potential in someone that you teach them to see it in themselves, and learning to do that opens their eyes to everything and everyone else in the world… at the core of it, that is the potency of art, and the door was the embodiment of that. You can’t really appreciate it’s magic, until you see all the little things that make it so special and unique, and intricate. I think people are like that too. When I consider what it is I am trying to do as an artist and teacher I believe my message to other artists is: When you are proficient in your craft you will be able to see what is beautiful and amazing in everything, and in turn you will be able to take it and show it to the world that would have otherwise missed it… when you are a master you’ll learn to be able to do that even when you don’t have a camera in your hand.


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Art is cathartic, but also can be the cause of great suffering, as therapy and growth usually is… as with all my work, in many ways they are self portraits, though perhaps portraits of different versions and aspects of me, or of myself at different times and places in my life. Perhaps some are even premonitions of the future. I have a very high frustration level with people that hold to their pasts, especially as excuses for why and where and who they are in the present, and what that will mean for their future. What appears as a lacking in compassion is actually empathy. I know what it is to do that, to be there. How it chains you to this anchor, an anchor which has held you in storms, but still equally prevents you from moving beyond that. I become exasperated because I know. I know that it is hard, I know it hurts like hell, but I also know that releasing that will allow you to soar to the places you can not get to while holding onto it. We spend so much time focusing on the agony we have suffered, that we forget to look for what the experiences are meant to teach us. It isn’t easy… it never has gotten easier… that is and has always been an illusion, the truth is you just get better. Eventually you have to decide whether the safety of familiarity is enough to stay where you are, or if you will find the courage and strength to let go of all the hurt, the insecurity, the reasons and excuses that have made you a victim, of cruelty, of circumstance, of pain. In many ways my journey into my photography career was that choice, that brave first step across the threshold, the promise that I wasn’t going back, so I would no longer look back. I stood at a door, terrified and small and knew the thing to do was to offer gratitude towards my past for the lessons, and then leave everything there, so that my arms were empty and able to accept anything new as I stepped through the door into my future. The first time was the most difficult, the most hesitation, the most second guessing. Every time since it has gotten easier as I have learned that fate favors the fearless.


Though at the time she did not know of me, nor that I was with her then. I loved her. I loved her with a sense of familiarity you have for things that have been worn away, things strewn with disregard, things perhaps even broken a time or two. Where the imperfections show themselves to be the things most effortlessly loved, and yet she was perfection. In this moment she was unscathed by the world, an innocent. Though I knew she could not remain this way. I mourned with great despondency as she crossed the threshold, knowing she could return… but that was not the same as uncrossing it.



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