An artist and friend of mine recently gave me a gift, a tiny ceramic head that although initially appears baby-like, actually has a zen-like expression, a transcendent vibe. She asked me to take a picture on behalf of her artist friend Kwanho Woo who will be exhibiting all of the photos he collects from around the globe, each containing one of the 10,000 ceramic heads he made last summer as part of his "Ten Thousand Present" project. My artist friend, Jeonghee, who has already earned her MFA, has been a teacher for several years, and regularly exhibits her ongoing artwork internationally, is still thirsty for something more...she, like me, wants to deepen the well of inspiration and knowledge we all draw from to begin anew. So we started our first week together as graduates pursuing our master's degree as of last week....and it already feels like a month has passed. Between reading books, writing critical praxis posts, attending class, her little transcendent ceramic head, senior portrait photo sessions and editing, autumn kicking into high gear with chilly dusks, warm puffs of saffron and crimson brushing the sky, and carpets of autumnal red, gold, and amber leaves, my husband still working so hard to combat his bipolar disorder, my daughter a mere 8 months away from being a high school graduate, my sprain ankle with its bionic boot for the past four weeks, and just being human.....well, one verb came to mind as I walked the dogs this morning: shed. For me, it has always been a challenge to let go of Summer's sweet tanned hands, her cocoon of warm sunshine...it is a glorious and much-longed for site in the Pacific Northwest. Growing up in California, I took for granted those 365 days of summer bliss....but now I treasure every drop of sunshine like it were my last. Fall here, however, beats California hands down when it comes to Autumn. The explosion of color is everywhere and it makes me feel almost as warm as Summer's embrace....but once the leaves begin to fall and the branches left barren and brown, this is when I start to feel a bit sad....and heavy...and fret over the grey and slush waiting for me right around the corner. When our daughter was diagnosed with a terminal illness many years ago, it was Winter. When my husband began his year-and-a-half battle with mental illness, it was winter. And back when we lived in Spokane for five years, they had the two worst record-breaking winters back to back in all of its history. Winter for me means weary, burdensome, slippery, and unsteady....everything I felt when the two people I love most in the world were burdened with something beyond their control. In an attempt to combat winter blues...I am realizing just how important it is to take regular time-outs for some nourishment of the soul and mind, to shed the unnecessary, to shed the worry of what I cannot wish away, to shed away that which is not mine to hold, to shed the cloak of expectations. I am realizing year after year, that we must shed and be barren and be humbled in order to be made anew.
Sort of reminds me of what we "do" in America - seek the shallow highlights of politics, gender, religion, ethnicity, etc. through the lens of social constructs, more firmly embedded within our being than the nutrients of the untouched soil of an undiscovered America. Beauty and heartbreak - they seem to go hand in hand like sorrow and sweet. -SLM
"Urban Meltdown" is a visual exploration of the soul’s inevitable intrinsic response to the "concrete jungle." It is the refusal to become indistinguishable from your environment and the decision to break the cycle of self-consciousness. The photo shoot took place at a Brooke Shaden workshop, part of which included a little downtown walk to a parking garage.....the mix of hard concrete and soft visuals of the Oregon coastline collided during that walk.....this was the result.
Place: Brooke Shaden Workshop, Portland, OR (2012)
Print and Web Publication: http://www.everettcc.edu/programs/arts/visual/viscom/vibrations/2013/shana_photo.html
My daughter helped to create the audio portion of this video. She is studying to be a sound engineer and with the music band internships she's completed over the past year, I think she is well on her way. This poem was written in transition - an ongoing transition that continues to push us forward throughout our journey as a family deciphering the un-decipherable of mental illness with a loved one. The video was initially created for a homework assignment from one of my art courses at the University of Washington. It was my first time shooting video....which strikes me as a bit odd, since I've been practicing photography for the past five years now....it is definitely another medium I wish to explore further in an effort to more powerfully express one's story.
Hello there! Welcome to a place where I share thoughts on life's "lost-and-found" moments that we all experience in different seasons. My name is Shana, also know as photographer, mom, wife, and full-time student pursuing a Masters in Cultural Studies. It is my hope to infuse a bit of whimsy, wit, or compassion during your stay. Thank you so much for visiting!