Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Its 5:30 in the morning here in PV Mexico and I just finished reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. The memorial poems that end the book made me get up to start writing. In my own life AIDS took a girl friend of mine, Mary Tudor, the wife of our doctor friend who delivered McKenzie and sister to my dear friend Dianne who is showing at the Soul Artist sale. AIDS comes knocking on my door regularly since my youngest brother lives with HIV and has since his youth. David has escaped the ultimate ravages of the disease but living with it is certainly not what you want for your brother or for anyone. My sorrow over what photography lost when Mapplethorpe died made me hop out of bed to try to put something meaningful into words.

The glow from the evening before I left for this trip with Doug has stayed with me thru the connective power of facebook. Reading what friends from my past and present have commented on the little video that Megan posted from the event have kept me smiling and given me a warm feeling about Soulumination. Now its not as if all the efforts that surround Soul don’t normally make me feel warmth, its just so hard to hold that feeling with the reality of the losses.

I was thinking back to my last shoot at Seattle Children’s and the amount of tears. Tears flowing onto the beautiful infant, tears that were trying to be wiped away, but 2 boxes of tissues could not begin to absorb all the anguish. The absolute sorrow that was filling the room with so much heat that it was hard to breathe left me slightly feverish feeling.

When I multiply this sorrow by the 700 shoots that Soul has recorded, I remind myself that some of our friends survive, they grow and blossom and show us that hope is indeed a part of our work. But sadly the majority end with loss and that is what we are supposed to be doing, this legacy work is not for the faint-hearted. It is such a wonderful thing that now over 35 talented photographers have realized that their hearts have what it takes to make images that will sustain memories that might help bridge and maybe even help to heal some of the pain.

I remember seeing some of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work at SAM years ago, he was shocking the world with not only his talent but with bringing the images of the gay life style into full view--never apologizing and as Patti puts it in her book, never differentiating between the beauty of his floral photos and his more provocative male images. His legacy is huge but I can’t help but morn his loss as he moved forward when others faltered. His images are often shown in the Christie’s and Sotheby’s Auction catalogs that are such a wonderful and generous gift to me from my friend, Don Logan. The prices his images fetch are high and in my heart I hope his estate benefits AIDS research.

Photography has many uses and it made me chuckle to read that when asked recently which camera to buy, Annie Leibovitz answered an Iphone, a tribute to the loss of another genius but also so very true as its definitely my next purchase and I love seeing all the images on facebook that my young mom friends post of their stunning children that were taken with their phones- tiny but powerful glimpses into their daily lives.

So with Soul we walk into one of the harder realms of photography but hopefully we do it with honor, grace and like Robert we don’t differentiate from the beauty we record in our daily work and the beauty we are called to in this much more difficult realm. We walk into sacred ground and maybe we return with a little more than we can understand or comprehend and that makes it possibly the hardest thing any of us that work with Soulumination will ever face with our cameras, but maybe the most important.

Onward in love and peace, and saluting the work of photographic genius that was lost but remains and grows by teaching us to follow the heart, Lynette