Why We Need to Support the Arts

On July 17, 2020, the world lost a true American hero, a fierce fighter for justice and humanity,  and an — unknown to many, including me — strong supporter of the arts, with the death of the Honorable John Lewis.

While reading about his life and legacy, I learned that he himself was a talented photographer who understood the power of a photograph to bear witness to the Civil Rights Movement, and the role of photography in the fight for change.  And that he was the author of the legislation that established the National Museum of African American History and Culture within the Smithsonian (a fantastic museum and highly recommended if you’ve never been.)

Lewis was also an avid supporter of museums and a lifelong patron and collector of art. In a recent article in Oprah Magazine, he said he couldn’t do without art. He said he became friends with African American artists at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and added: “Without their images, I don’t know what would have happened to many of us. Art can take you to another place—and their pieces said we could dream dreams and be a better people.”

He even published a graphic novel trilogy, “March”,  (in collaboration with artist Nate Powell and writer Andrew Aydin) detailing his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, in which he shared this statement:

“Without the arts, without music, without dance, without drama, without photography, the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings.”

It made me realize how truly fortunate I am to have access to arts in my life, especially considering the incessant stream of ‘bad news’ we are all subjected to: increasing covid 19 deaths, the plague of locusts in East Africa, violent federal intervention during peaceful protests in Portland, daily Femicides in Turkey, and the minute to minute assaults on members of the BIPOC community happening all around us (to name a few of the ills of the day).

Art is our savior in times like this. Art provides us a mental escape, it enriches our days, it provides a positive way to express and heal ourselves, it touches others and connects us. Art is just so important.

Yet, in the few weeks since my last post, I myself haven’t made much art. I’ve felt burdened by the daily worries of what is going on with the world, my regular work schedule (which is getting busier and busier), and my efforts to both learn about race issues in America and be an active non-performative anti-racist. It’s a lot. But I feel the absence of art in my life and I want it back. It doesn’t have to be a ‘this’ or ‘that’ conversation.

One way to participate in the arts is to support organizations that are doing great work, and especially those that support BIPOC communities. One such organization is the Flower City Arts Center right here in Rochester, NY. The FCAC, or ‘the Center’ as we affectionately call it, offers arts programming to people of all ages and abilities, regardless of constructs like race and gender. They are now offering virtual classes as well as small instructor-led classes in all three program areas: photography, ceramics and book arts. They offer summer camps and after-school programming, and they support marginalized groups like women’s veterans and students of city schools where arts programming has been severely cut. But they are struggling in this economic climate, and need our help.

If you are in a position to support the arts through a financial donation, I highly recommend donating to the FCAC. I have personally been supporting their programs and appeals for over 15 years, and as a former artist in residence, former youth program teacher, former Board President, and current member and volunteer, I have seen first hand the positive impact their programs have on our community. In the spirit of John Lewis, standing up for the things that make a difference, using my voice to make change, and providing opportunities for others to join in that change, I ask for your help. Please consider a donation to the FCAC. Every dollar counts!


Artist Talk – this Sunday, May 31!

Hi everyone!

Just a quick reminder that this upcoming Sunday, May 31, is my Artist Talk, which is the final talk for the month-of-May-Sunday-Afternoon-Artist-Talk series sponsored by the Department of Photography and Digital Arts at the Flower City Arts Center. 

We will start promptly at  1:00 pm Eastern Time. For those of you in other time zones: this is 10:00 am Pacific Time / 11:00 am Mountain Time / 12:00 pm Central Time /  18:00 pm British Summer Time / 19:00 pm Central Europe Summer Time.

These talks are free and open to the public, no matter if you are local here in Rochester or somewhere else in the world. You just need to register so you can receive the Zoom link to join in: https://www.rochesterarts.org/classes/artist_talks_online_spring_2020/


My plan is to present for 30-40 min, show new work, talk about the kallitype process, what inspires me, and my current projects. Then we’ll have a few minutes for Q&A. We should be finished within an hour. I’ve really enjoyed the other artist talks in the series, and am excited to share my work and this process with you!

During the talk, I’m also hoping to show a few short kallitype process videos I put together on Youtube. I’m not confident the audio will work through Zoom, and depending on your connection the video may not be super clear, so I’m including this links here too in case you want to watch before, during or after!

PS – We are planning to record the session, and as soon as the full talk is available I will share a link to it here as well.

Do You Know About Rochester’s Darkroom Club?

Hi everyone!

I’m pretty fortunate to be part of an inspiring community of artists here in Rochester, NY. For almost 2 decades, I’ve been taking classes and making work at the Flower City Arts Center, learning various alternative photographic processes, and making friends. Does that seems weird? I’ll bet if you’re a traditional analog photographer who works in your home darkroom, you may often feel (and relish) the isolation of that dark space, which doesn’t feel akin to ‘making friends’…but at the Center, those of us renting the public darkrooms have come to know and respect each other, and we often share our work to get advice and share ideas.

It’s a great creative community, one that I cherish now more than ever, especially in this ‘age’ (it’s only been two months, but it feels longer!) of self isolation.

Darkroom Club – looks more formal than it is!

Prior to coronavirus, the Department of Photography and Digital Arts at the Center created a Darkroom Club. There’s no specific webpage for the club, but there is a Facebook page, and we were meeting once a month for a couple hours to mingle with each other, share our latest work, and brainstorm ideas for exhibits. It was awesome to be able to see everyone’s photos, hear their critiques, ask questions, and in general, feel inspired by each other’s creativity – often in the form of photo books, zines, prints, collages, etc.

Darkroom Club – sharing work

Now that we are all staying at home, we’ve had a gap of time with no physical meetings, and I was really missing them. Until just recently, when we started meeting via Zoom! Being able to see everyone’s faces, see their work (either by them holding actual prints in front of their laptop camera, or screen sharing through the app), and chat about what we are doing to stay positive, stay engaged, stay busy, and stay creative has been awesome. Really great.

I believe the Darkroom Club is open to anyone who is an active Community Darkroom user or darkroom enthusiast. (You don’t need to be a member, though most of us are). If this sounds like you, and you are craving some interaction, join us! And if you’re not on Facebook, let me know and I can connect you with the club admin!

Coming soon: Virtual Artist Talks!

Welcome to May! It’s definitely spring here in Rochester, per the calendar, and according to the flowers….but winter is still trying to keep it’s icy hold with flurries, overnight freezes, and more dull gray skies. Despite all that, one bright spot is that more and more arts organizations, museums, educational institutions and galleries are getting creative with ways for us all to engage with the arts online!

For example, the Department of Photography and Digital Arts at the Flower City Arts Center has organized this series of upcoming virtual Artist Talks for the month of May:

  • Sunday, May 10, 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST – Fernando Muller (current FCAC artist in residence; this one already happened, but when the Youtube link is available, I’ll update this post)
  • Sunday, May 17, 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST – Linda Van Artsdalen (fiber and alternative photographic process artist – AMAZING work)
  • Saturday, May 23, 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST – Jonathan Merritt (current FCAC alternative photographic process artist and teacher – and the person who taught me kallitypes!)
  • Sunday, May 31, 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST – me! I’ll be talking about my kallitypes and showing current work.

These talks are free and open to the public, no matter if you are local here in Rochester or somewhere else in the world. You just need to register so you can receive the Zoom link to join in: https://www.rochesterarts.org/classes/artist_talks_online_spring_2020/

Each talk runs roughly an hour with approximately 30 min for the artist’s presentation and then time for Q&A. They are also being recorded, and I’ll make another post with the Youtube links once the series concludes.
I’m excited to be one of the presenters, rounding out the month with the final talk for May!  Please mark your calendars and plan to join me!

Fall Book Tour – Aug & Sept 2019

Where oh where did the summer go??  The months of May, June, July, and most of August, passed by like a whirlwind with a lot of travel, for work and for pleasure. I went to New York City twice (once to kick off birthday month (May) and see the amazing Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, and once for work); I went to Guelph, Ontario (north of Toronto) to attend a memorial service for dear friend Molly who passed in Dec 2018, and the Palm D’Or snipe (sailing) regatta; I traveled to Guam for the second time for work;  and I had a “girls weekend” in Mystic, CT with my mother, aunt/God mother, sisters and niece. There wasn’t much time in there for making kallitypes, though I definitely spent a lot of time TAKING photos!

Then in late August, I went to Europe to deliver the photo books that friends and family living there had purchased. I called it my ‘European Book Tour’!  I made stops in five cities, two in Netherlands (Amsterdam area) and three in Germany (around Stuttgart and Frankfurt).

Fall Tour 1

Delivering books to Petra, Fred & Monika and Marion in Netherlands and Germany

In all, I delivered 6 books and got to spend time with loved ones, talk about my work a little more, and enjoy some beautiful weather and great food!

Fall Tour 2

Delivering books to Lina, Klaus, Jasi (and Meli, not pictured), Meg and Kyle, and Marcel who carried his back to Ghana where daughter Marine posed for this photo

When I returned from Europe in early September, I immediately went to DC (literally 3 days later) to celebrate the life of our dear friend Grazia who had passed earlier in the summer, and got to deliver one more photo book to friends Meg and Kyle….then I had about a week at home before one more final work trip to Guam, this time to the island of Saipan.

I still have a few books to deliver here in Rochester and other parts of the US, and am hoping that the slight slow down over the holidays (in terms of travel anyway…) will allow me to connect with everyone else! (And if you are one of those still waiting – your book is coming!!)

Visiting My First Darkroom

Since my last post in early April of this year, it’s been a busy few months OUTSIDE of the Darkroom, so I’m going to be adding a few posts here to catch everyone up on how I have been filling that time!

On April 17, after reconnecting with my former high school art teacher Valerie (aka ‘Mrs. Savage’!) at my Artist Talk back in February, I went over to my old school (Wheatland-Chili Central School) to hand deliver the “Crested Euphorbia Lactea” print that she purchased and see the updated art room facilities.

Valerie with print

My former art teacher, who introduced me to darkroom photography, with one of my prints!

Valerie (so weird to call former teachers by their first names…) was the one who introduced me to darkroom photography.  I remember immediately liking her and feeling at home in her classroom. She was bubbly and positive, full of ideas that anything was possible. And she has stayed with WCCS all this time, now more than 30 years later, and is still going strong!

Under her ‘management’, the art room has been much improved with digital computers, more materials, better lighting, and options for students to experience a wide variety of crafts and mediums. I was really amazed at how the room has changed (for the better) AND the fact that they still have a darkroom!

WCCS darkroom

Student darkroom facilities at WCCS – amazing!

We got to spend about an hour chatting and catching up, and I was really impressed and inspired by everything she has done with the program, as well as how robust the art options are for students in the WCCS district. It was awesome to be back there in that space where I spent so many hours, and know that others are getting the same opportunities (or better) than I did!

Thank you very much ‘Mrs. Savage’ for your support and encouragement, and for being such a wonderful inspiration for so many students!