Pick Your Poison

Sweetie knows that I deal in tough love, and decided to give me some back recently she hopped up on the chair and reminded me of my own advice: “You make it happen or your make excuses… get to shooting.”

When I was a teenager doing typical teenage angsty things my Dad didn’t take the reprimand seat but instead bought me a t-shirt said “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History” Which by no means was an encouragement or acceptance of unacceptable behavior, but by contrast was a subtle push towards placing that wildness and energy into something that could be constructive rather than destructive…

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I don’t think I understood that at the time, but now being a mother and having Cadence approaching her 10th birthday I see her coming into her own as a young woman and approaching the years that shape who we are and when we tend to make most of our mistakes as we gain more freedom but don’t have any experience to base our choices on.

It makes me really happy to know that through this time of transcending from childhood into her feminine spirit that she is surrounded by powerful women, women with purpose and passion and that know the value of their worth separate from anyone else. I think it will make her strong, and courageous much more than I was through that time. I know that she will be sheltered from the hurricanes, but not from the storms. It makes me happy to see her admiring and emulating the women that I admire and respect most.

This weekend Michael Rhodes came down and taught me wet plating. I hadn’t seen him since he came to help me cast the initial key. Sarah posted a photo of this particular print that I hadn’t known they took until I came across it online. It came with the caption: “Mess with her, you mess with me. Creeping with the young queen.” I think it’s one of the best things I can do as a mother when I put other powerful women in her path who love her, and show her what fierce looks like.

It reminds me of a lioness, letting her cub play and think it is brave and intimidating when really it’s the mama cat behind the kitten that’s instilling the fear and respect… but it’s building her confidence and sense of self, we learn through mimicry and it gives me peace knowing that as she begins to pull away from me in an attempt to define herself apart that there are still strong, protective, courage women keeping a watchful eye and setting her on the right paths.

I’m very lucky for the circle I keep. The Reliquarian has been the heart of my creativity for the past year, though slow on the build with the Arcanum and Studio and Deployment and normal life circumstances… Aside from the amazing foundation these people have become in building its success, I have also built family, a strong one, and for that I am full of such immense gratitude I don’t know that I could convey it’s depths in mere words.

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I battled a bit internally with finding a balance between the different sides of who I am. I think we all struggle a bit with the work, life, passion balance. Dane Sanders spoke eloquently last year to me of minding the gap between the two and that “Balance” is a myth. I took that one step further and instead decided to close the gap, and instead of balance focus on work life integration. My family and dearest friends work with me on this project, but it also gives me time with them, and time is our most valuable gift. We laugh and sing and tell stories and break bread. In the same regard as I have mentored and taught with people all over the world I recent was gifted the opportunity to spend time with friends from 3 different countries and several states within my own, to share wine, and be introduced to the glorious tradition of the TimTam Slam 🙂 To share time. So while I have questioned the progress the Reliquarian is making, I must say personally, professionally, artistically this has been one of the best years I have experienced in this life. Surrounded by so many people I admire and adore that the only way to get them all in a photograph was to shoot the mirror on the ceiling of the tourbus we were in while we all laid atop each other, beaming with the glow of each other’s shared energy. I have a charmed life, that I am so grateful for.

For me what has always inspired my greatest work has been love. I have a love for life, for kindness, for love, for people, for lovely things, for creating. Whatever God we call our own created this universe, this world this life with great love, and so I see each small act of creation: Be it a child, a home, a piece of art, of music, writing, ideas, words, kindness, a meal… all to be divine in their nature. The most precious of which has been my children.

As we move forward with humanity we become increasingly capable of achieving instant gratification, and as with all things we don’t realize the true value of what we have until its absence. I, being born in the time I have been and picking up a camera less than a decade ago began this journey with digital, but always felt the allure of the dark room.

There is something almost spiritual about learning and performing the same methods as the first artists to master our craft. It’s like having rituals handed down generation after generation, and you have a hand in all of it, in the creation of the medium the image is printed on, in the darkness and light, in the posing, the composition, and the process of bringing that image into existence, it’s artistic birth in the fullest sense from conception to delivery.

This was my first successful Wet Plate Creation which appropriately was of one of my other favorite creations I’ve ever made: Cadence Ashley <3

The patience, the materials and time and money that went into a single shot retrained me in a mere 2 days so that when my client came in on the end of the weekend we thought it’d be fun and unique to create a wet plate boudoir image, but then even when I picked up my digital I noticed myself taking more time with the light and composition, being more cautious and selective about when I fired the shutter.

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I think it’s essential that we keep paying attention, keep learning, keep exploring, keep growing… a lot of the Reliquarian storyline reinforces this… it shifts our focus, our perspective, it changes us and in doing so changes the way you take in and give out to the world around us.

This project by far has been the most rewarding and the most challenging I’ve ever undertaken. It is a tryst of all my talents and passions, converging my identity as a writer, an artist, a photographer.

I didn’t realize how different the thought process and methods are for all those things when I am in them, and it has created more than a little discord within, but at the same time I think when finished will become the most intense expression I’ve ever made.

At least I hope so.

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I think I identify most deeply with this piece in the series so far. Our Young Heroine has fallen from her decadent settings, and poison is now coursing through her veins, threatening to end her existence. Understandably she’s angry, she’s scared, she’s sick… she’ll blame the tea, the table, the world, the woman who ate with her, those that sent her on this journey… when really it was her choices. Each presented themselves, and she chose her path. The fault lies within. The tea is made to kill her or help her see, and for me I think the tea is a metaphor for life lessons.

We make the wrong choices to help us learn to make the right ones, we choose the wrong path, the wrong lovers, the wrong focus and from them we receive pain, suffering, loss. With those things we either become a victim, and blame outside ourselves for our misfortunes, or we look within, take responsibility for the steps we chose to walk that led us to this place and change our direction to find a different place, a different outcome.

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We adjudicate as to whether we will allow it poison us, make us mean, bitter, untrusting, reclusive, or whether we will learn and grow from it, so that we might be kinder, wiser creatures moving forward… it takes some of us… took me myself a long time to learn this lesson. As with all things, all choices, all experiences, all people, the weight is in the dosage, how much or how little determines if what we have is medicine or poison… in this case the next moments will decide for her whether this will become a poison and kill her, or if it will change her perspective… as is the offer of most life experiences.

More than 2 years ago now Cadence was interested in photoshop and all I can do with it, and she asked me if I could take the photograph of her and make one eye blue and one eye purple. When I did she said, “I think people with 2 different colored eyes would see things differently.” I thought this was really insightful for a little girl who had just turned 7. Oddly enough the dual eye color gene runs in my adoptive family and my dad would always say people with two different colored eyes have two souls. While I was busy wondering how Cadence was so existential at such a young age she followed it up with: “You know like when we use the 3d glasses at the movies.” I laughed, but at the same time when I think about it, that was the seed for the Reliquarian being planted, and it germinated several months later. Great trees come from small seeds.

“Necessary lessons often come at the highest cost, the price of this one was your innocence, and so you will not see things the same from this point. With the knowledge you’ll acquire also comes the pain of carrying that. Knowledge is a heavy thing to carry you know.”


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