My Grandma Ruth is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She worked as a social worker her whole life and still goes out of her way every day to help those in need. She drives around her friends who can’t drive any more, lends people her cell phone, volunteers at her church, plans and coordinates who knows how many different activities, participates in politics, for an Alzheimer’s call center, is part of a cremation society, goes to museums and plays, takes spanish classes, travels, and so much more. One of my fondest memories as a child of my grandmother is listening to her tell “Little Witch” stories that she made up, which is fitting since she was born on Halloween. My grandma was one of very few women who earned a masters degree from Columbia in the late 40’s I think it would have been and I might be wrong but she might not have even been out of her teens. The story is that when she first applied to Columbia she was only 16 and they told her she was too young and should take a year to do other things. So my Grandma went and worked on an Indian reservation in North Dakota doing social work. Apparently at one point she had to be hospitalized for being malnourished on account of only eating a piece of toast, an egg, and a snickers bar every day. While that obviously wasn’t a smart or healthy eating habit, my Grandma is very, very wise and smart and is the only person who corrects my grammar constantly enough that I think I may have just finally gotten it all right.
I feel very honored to have been so close with my Grandma and I hope we have many more years of stories and activities together.
For those family members who might read this please feel free to correct my stories or share one of your own about grandma Ruth.
When I was home in Wisconsin this summer I photographed my mother and her fluctuating group of chickens who provide my parents with eggs and amusement. It was fun photographing her flock and creating a composited image showing the relationship she has with them.
I have had the pleasure to work with the talented Patricia Buraschi on a project involving a character or alter ego she has developed over the years. These images are part of a larger project we are working on with the hopes of eventually creating an installation to be shown in a gallery or other creative space. Patricia has shared some of the story surrounding her character Monika Grev.
Monika Grevwas a prominent German physicist that focused her work in developing natural dyes and their healing effects during the 1800’s. At an early age Monika could already be found exploring in her native fields, studying theplants and minerals and making compounds out of them, and with the help of her mom, extracting their colors into concentrated pastes and salts. As she grew older, Monika learnt how to read and write with the help of the town librarian, who also facilitated botanical and physics books to her. It is said that during her teenage years Monika started to unravel her natural gift of holding telepathic dialogues with the mineral and botanical kingdoms, hearing their healing vibrations and their different uses to improve different ailments and people’s well being through colored textiles and compounds. During this dialogue the Plant Kingdom would instruct Monika how to transfer and combine these attributes into color dyes to be later used in fabrics, yarns, waters and salts. By 21 years of age Monika’s cellar had been converted into her lab and only the librarian and a few other people knew about it. This is where she developed a deeper passion for physics and mysticism. Her passion and dedication was such that is was harder and harder to live in the divide between her hidden and social lives. She was a sweet looking yet strong willed woman, who was exercising her right of expression in an extravagant fashion in a time where women were usually the strong shadow of the men who shaped the forefront of society. She had the conviction that humans were born to live extraordinary lives doing what they loved and was determined to continue her practices even after numerous warnings. Needles to say, the healing power of the colors she developed spoke for themselves and outside the norm of those times: dark fiery pinks, vibrant emerald greens, rich voluptuous yellows, mysterious milky blues, nurturing golden browns and textures that evoked passion and creativity once in contact with people’s eyes and skins.
Monika Grev was hung in the town courtyard with the charges of witchery.
Cowboy Cuddle-one chapter of a series I am doing on the many talents and interests of my parents. Many, many more to come. This chapter has them traipsing around their farm in their Wild West Days performing outfits. These images are just outtakes that I liked. The final images will be along soon.
This is the cover I have worked up for the book renovation I am working on from an illustrated story I wrote when I was about 15 years old. I am having some extra eyes look at the story and give me some editing advice. More to come soon!
It was such a pleasure to work with the beautiful and talented Elizabeth last time she came back to NYC. We spent an amazing day taking pictures around Brooklyn. We have had a couple of different photo shoots this year and I am excited to start releasing a few images. I am also very excited to keep hearing the new and amazing music that Elizabeth has been working on.
I had the honor of photographing Maureen Karlstad, an amazing potter and loving teacher living in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin. We went out into her garden in the early hours of the morning and created some striking images. Maureen’s pottery is beautiful and practical with glazes that are colorful and inspiring. I have a gorgeous set of her bowls that I use every day. Maureen has graced us with some wonderful words about her passion for her work.
MAUREEN KARLSTAD-POTTER Words for how I feel when I am throwing pots on the wheel.
I love the way it feels when I get the clay wet and move my hands over its smooth surface. I love being able to move the clay into a calm and centered place. I love pushing down into the centered mound and then pulling the clay outward into the walls of a bowl or mug. I love being able to make a shape with as few pulls as possible, so that the finished piece has a sense of freshness about it, with the finger marks still in it from the pulling. I love making the same shape over and over again. Each time I make a particular shape I am trying again for perfection—I may make 50 bowls but only one will have that elusive sense of perfection, or maybe none of them will. But all of them come close in one way or another, and they become beautiful and useful in their own ways.
The feeling of oneness I experience with the clay when I am able to effortlessly create a beautiful form as it turns on the wheel is an amazing thing. It is gratifying and humbling. It is a form of meditation—a meditative act, not a thinking kind of meditation, but a doing kind of meditation. The turning wheel and the movement of my hands on the clay work together to create forms that are truly magical. I have never lost the feeling that what I am doing is a magical process, and that I am blessed to be able to do it. I also get despondent if I am away from clay for any extended period of time. It is my creative outlet and my therapy. Whenever I am able to spend time in the studio, I have more energy for the other things that I do in my daily life.
I never get tired of making pottery on the wheel. And I never get tired of all of the aspects of the work—from the wedging of the clay to the throwing on the wheel to the trimming and the loading of the kiln and glazing and firing. At times I can get very frustrated—when pots crack, when glazes run, when kilns don’t fire correctly—but that is frustration in the moment and not frustration with the process itself. The process is a part of my life, a part of my being and something that makes me feel truly alive.
Please visit Pierce Hill Studios to see more of Maureen’s work and her blog site for news and information on classes if you live in the Viroqua, WI area.