Friday, February 15, 2013

Revealing and Concealing...

   When I was in art school, specifically, in Art History 101, we learned about a sculptural technique much favored in ancient Greece.  It was called "wet drapery" and I remember the professor talking at great length about this amazing it revealed at the same time as it concealed the human form beneath the folds.  Truly stunning when you consider it is accomplished with mallet and chisel and a piece of very hard marble!  I also remember my sculpture teacher bringing in a piece of marble for us to try our hand at later that same first year of art school. It made my appreciation for the Greek sculptures even more profound when I experienced, for myself, just how difficult it is to carve marble.  That few minutes I spent with a mallet and a chisel did more for my "art appreciation" than the long lecture my art history professor had given.

   Contemplative photography is a bit like that.  We can read about it and we can look at beautiful examples of masterful images but nothing can quite replace the experience of simply going out into the landscape with one's camera, sitting quietly absorbing the sense of place and then creating our own images.  Many, if not most, of our attempts will be anything but "contemplative" but when we do manage to create that icon of experience that speaks to something soulfully essential for us then we'll "get it".  It will ring true and create a connection between image and thought I can only hint at in my posts.  What was before concealed within the folds and contours of the landscape will suddenly be revealed to our searching heart. I know that even if I never made another photograph in my life the appreciation I now have for the landscape will be more profound because of attempts at photographing its mystery.  What was once concealed from me is now revealed in stunning detail.

    We mustn't worry if our photographs are "masterful" or worthy of gallery wall space. We can't give a moments thought to the "saleability" of the photograph or comments by the critics.  We simply must love them for what they are...heartfelt expressions of who we have become, through our self reflection, as a person.  Those reflections have revealed what now has meaning for us and that should be enough for anyone to hope for.

1 comment:

Janet G. said...

Until I met you I never heard the words ‘contemplative’ and ‘photographer’ combined.

Since reading your present and past blog postings I’m beginning to understand that I have been a contemplative photographer for many years and just didn't know it.

My attempts to capture light, landscape, architecture apparently were a way of discovering myself through the images that called to me. Today, looking back at pictures made over the past twenty years I see the person that I now recognize as my true self, slowly emerging.

From today’s post you tell me that being a contemplative photographer allows me to:
“Create a connection between image and thought…”
“Create that icon of experience that speaks to something soulfully essential…”

Thus, “what was once concealed is now revealed in stunning detail...”

It does not get much better than this for my pilgrim journey to wholeness in this lifetime.

Thank you!