Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Division of the Arts; Photography

Project Advisor 1

David Bush

Abstract/Artist's Statement

It has been a difficult year for my family – this is not an unusual narrative. I flew to California to photograph all that had changed, all that I had been avoiding – to get right at the heart of family and mental illness, of unemployment and home. Over the course of two long trips, however, I found that these narratives were constantly slipping away from me, dissolving as I tried to make meaning of them. Each time I thought I knew where I could stand in relation to these people, the ground would shift, someone would change, my perspective would change, and I would begin again – searching.

Perhaps I was searching then for what I search for now: a cohesion, an ending. But, these images are not answers to my questions – how could they be? I search for something to hold – an answer, a conclusion – but what I find are more questions; more questions and, of course, light.

I am always placing myself in the perfect light, forming this body into an image that glows cinematic, that deserves to be taken, remembered. It seems relevant to note that as I write this, the French doors of my bedroom are thrown open, the diaphanous material of the long curtains twisting in the breeze. The quilt that was my mother’s is drying over the railing of the front porch, and my legs are tucked perfectly into the square of sun that is illuminating this chair. I am making myself into a picture, but is the picture the meaning? Is light the meaning? I want to be this image, though I know that no one is taking it. And, if I take it, what is it then? This image cannot bring the simplicity of narrative that I long for.

When I was a child, crippled by the anxiety of parting, my mom taught me a practice that we called protection: Imagine you are surrounded by an orb of shimmering light, all negative forces are repelled by this bubble, you are safe within the protective forces of the light.

Light as safety, light as protection – In California, even when we have nothing, there is golden light. May the longtime sun shine upon you/ all love surround you/ and the pure light within you/ guide your way on. This is a blessing for journeys, a farewell blessing. I do not know where I first heard these words – the constant low hum of new age mysticism through my childhood leaves many traces. I often substitute the word “home” for “on,” in fact, I am not sure even now which version is correct, or if there is such a thing as correct when talking about a mantra. Either way, light is guiding force.

The light is what remains. Living in the longtime sun, the kind of electric evening glow that feels so deeply of something coming. I reach out, searching, attempting to hold onto this meaning, to this sense that glimmers at the edges of all that my eyes can keep in focus at one time.

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