I was interviewed by the wonderful Catherine Potter. If you’d like to hear what I have to say about photography, storms, relaxing in front of the camera and cow poop, have a listen.
This set of portraits is a departure from the work I normally do. I completed the photographs for Because of Her, I am – for the visual arts portion of the 2019 SkirtsAFire Festival which showed at the Nina Haggarty Art Gallery on 118th Avenue in Edmonton.
Integrity versus Despair: Balance
This series of self portraits originated over 25 years ago during a hypnosis session when I was called to make a choice between head and heart, art and science. I chose heart and art. At the time I was in the middle of a degree in microbiology. I committed to completing the degree, but shortly thereafter began working as a photographer. The subsequent years were devoted to my artistic practice which was interwoven with raising my family.
My photography centers heavily around the family. Both familial emotional relationships and the experiences are crucial themes in my work. Recording families lives in order to create a record of love and joy that can be later accessed by those children once they have reached adulthood is the crux of my work.
In this series, the images are an interpretation of my dream world and my visioning, which are both comprised of and illuminated by archetypal motifs and mythologies. Jungian classical themes feature heavily in these creations. The objects in the photographs are both symbolic and representative of important moments or experiences in my life.
A health crisis necessitated my looking into the heart of myself, weighing my life and my contributions to the world. Erik Erikson writes about the stages of psychosocial development, and this work is the story of the final stage, Integrity versus Despair.
Integrity versus Despair : You Are In Your Grandmother’s Ovary
Intergenerational abandonment is a theme I have struggled with all my life. My mother left me as an infant and her mother left her. Before my boys were born, I sought counselling to ensure that I would not continue the cycle.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, my first thought was for my children. I could not leave them and would do everything to stay with them. A cancer diagnosis quickly strips you of any mental surety you have about the world and I had to come to terms with the possibility of leaving my children.
My counsellor (again with the counselling! more abandonment issues!) pointed out that even if I were to die, my boys would have a mother who died, which is a very different narrative than a mother who abandons.
In this work to regain psychological wholeness, I had to reintegrate the spirit of my mother and the spirit of my grandmother. She is an imagined figure. All I know about her is she would have been a young adult at the end of World War 2.
Integrity versus Despair: La Pieta
I have the least words for this photo – probably because I am so close to it emotionally. Pieta means ‘pity’ in Italian but a more accurate translation would be ‘compassion’ – which means “to suffer with”. On a personal level, it represents the feelings I have for my child who struggles with anxiety. I also worry for both my boys as they grow into adults and navigate the world. On a more collective level, I feel so much compassion for youth today. The challenges they face in their lives from climate change to mental health challenges are overwhelming. I don’t even know if there will be clean water or any water where I live 50 years from now. I support the students in their climate strike.
Integrity versus Despair : Flight
This child grounds me.
This is my first full-on composite photo
All of the elements, including the birds which are right side up, even tho I am upside down have meaning.
Integrity versus Despair: My Sacred Heart
Everything in this portrait is symbolic both as a metaphor and as lived experience.
After I had surgery on my breast, the wound became infected and opened up. It is surreal seeing inside of your body and I felt as if I could see into the heart of myself. In that moment, I saw this picture.
We are all sacred. Each one of us carries divine light within us. We are all valuable. All necessary. (the fire in this photo is real, not photoshopped, although it is a composite so I would not light my hair on fire.) The heart I am holding is that of a deer – I have often been accused of being too sensitive, but I now know that that sensitivity saved my life.
The pink roses are life and motherhood.
The deer/stag behind me was my protector as a child when we lived on the estate at Hatch Court, near Hatch Beauchamp
The globe shows both my birthplace and the birthplace of humanity, and the journal, my journey.
I had the opportunity to photograph this beautifully restored Art Deco building on the corner of 97th Street and 111 Avenue. Originally the Blue Cross Animal Hospital, it was bought by a Anna Bubel and Marshall Hopkins and completely renovated.
The (very interesting) story of the building’s renovation can be found here: https://ratcreek.org/a-collective-effort-created-a-unique-building/
Hopkins runs his law office out of the main front building. There is a second suite on the first floor with 5 rooms, two common areas, a kitchen and bathroom and upstairs are 7 rooms, two common areas, a kitchen and a large patio. (room count approximate!)
If you’re interested in renting the space (which is very reasonably priced), give me a shout and I can connect you with the owners.
And if you do, the yellow office with the two sets of windows, the curved wall directly off the patio is mine.
The law office on the main floor.
This is exactly the tile pattern I used in my house.
The common area upstairs
I had to photograph the details (Isn’t the Alberta door cool?)
The upstairs kitchen
The entrance/common room on the main floor
You can find out more about rental opportunities here: https://decolicious.ca/
Lying on my back in the middle of the floor. Rolling around on the ground. I love my job.
Kerr did the walls (curved walls are a lot harder than you think), and the baffling on the ceiling.
If you know of any construction businesses that would like to document the work they do, please pass my name onto them!
This was one of my favourite shoots ever.
Barrhead Museum has an old map they wanted photographed as they are restoring it. It is a bit of a hike from Edmonton to Barrhead, so I suggested that to make it worth their while, I could photograph some of the museum’s artifacts while I was there.
This was all entirely selfish. I am one of those geeky people who gets in trouble for touching things I am not supposed to. Occasionally I drool as I am staring intently at an object while I wonder who used it, and how many hands touched it before it wound up in front of me (just kidding about that part!) I love history and was thrilled to to this shoot.
This museum is worth the trip. While the building itself is small, the artifacts are meticulously displayed by theme. For example there is a “smoke shop” area; a war area, police artifacts and an amazing taxidermy display, amoung others.
A First Nations fishing basket, with quill work. Restoration work done.
Copper pan in the midst of being restored
Vegetable food grinder. (I’ve seen meat grinders but never for vegetables)
Violin (I believe from the 1700s)
Its fascinating to me that this is in a museum. It makes me feel old!
This display is amazing. I am no fan of big game hunting – my thoughts: “if you kill it, you eat it.” (something I have said to small boys throwing rocks at seagulls, on more than one occasion). But, this collection was donated to the museum, and its really impressive. I never thought I would get to photograph a zebra or a warthog, or a cheetah!
The museum is open May to September, but if you are up there outside of those months, they may open by appointment.
This was the most stellar fall I think I have ever seen in Edmonton.
I am generally not a fall scenery photographer type person, but this year the colours were spectacular.
I love that I found these maple leaves in rainbow colours!
We don’t often get a good display of reds in fall here in Edmonton (I know, because on the family photography side of my business, I need to keep track of what is turning and when) but this year, I think the long cool fall, rather than a freezing cold snap, let the trees change colour more slowly. These trees are stunning.
This summer was a bit of a whirlwind. I was being treated for breast cancer over the summer and was working full time as well. (By the way, I absolutely recommend you check into your disability insurance. I can hook you up with someone who is wonderful at this. I certainly wish I would have got on it sooner, because working while dealing with a health crisis is a bit tricky!)
That is why I have not been posting, but here are a few of my favourites.
Carolynne Melnyk is one of my favourite subjects. She is so joyful and enthusiastic. We headed out to the Devon Botanical Gardens on a smokey summer day and got these lovely shots. You can see more of what Carolynne does here: www.livinglifeinjoy.com
Karen Gregory is a psychologist who works mostly with children, and her dog Ben helps them out. Karen Gregory
This year in my community, we’ve had a wonderful addition – Norwood Dental
Dr. William Chin and his partner Amanda Neilsen have fully integrated themselves into the community, participating in everything from arts festivals to community leagues. I’ve worked with them over the summer to create a library of photos. They are incredibly welcoming and kind, and strive to make dental care a comfortable experience.
This is Amanda, and the team.
Dave Wolger and Dustin Beech are two Edmonton real estate agents who are teaming together to create Beech Woolger Realty.
Dave found me through my page on Instagram and wanted to do non-standard branding headshots for their new venture together – and am I ever glad they did!
Their new page with lifestyle photos for their real estate business is coming soon, but for now you can check them out on Instagram or Facebook at @dustinbeechrealestate and @realtordavewoolger
Thank you for trusting me and co-creating with me. I had so much fun on this shoot.
Do you remember last year I photographed the amazing Rayanne Haines?
She wrote and performed an amazing poem – I am here to use my voice
For the last 4 years, the amazing Peggy Church has organised a dance and photography workshop in central Alberta, and Kelly and I have photographed.
The entire day is spend exploring dance creatively and capturing images of it. Its a day for all of us to experiment, be creative, and play. It is always so much fun and we all walk away from it having learned something new.
Peggy as puppetmaster.
But this is really how Peggy rolls. She is a kinethetic genius. She knows how the body works inside and out. She continually educates herself and she brings that amazing depth of knowledge to bring out the best in those she is working with. From a reminder to “lift the ribcage!” to “make your arm long. Longer, longer! That’s it.” To “perfect! you’ve got it”.
Working with Peggy is a joy.
You can see more of Peggy here: https://www.facebook.com/Peggy-Church-Artist-759680624085554
She is a: Model, Dancer, Choreographer, Actress, Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer, Massage Therapist, Nutritional Consultant, Hypopressive method instructor and Cupping therapist.