Transgender Day of Visibility

I have had the opportunity to photograph and work with some incredible trans performers and today I'm giving a big shout out to two of them - Jack StockLynn (circus performer) and Charlie Laban Trier (dancer). Thank you both for the incredible collaborations! 

Collaboration, fashion, and a helluva lot of fun!

Some history.

When I was young, six or seven, I started sewing costumes for my dolls and photographing them in various scenes around the house (flower pots, kitchen shelves, looking at the river). In high school I photographed local theater productions and developed dozens (hundreds?) of b&w portraits of my friends. In college I started working with local designers and performers to create lookbooks, headshots, posters, and visual narratives that told the stories of the brand. While working on my MFA I realized that I loved shooting landscapes with (gasp) no people in them.  

Over the years I’ve continued working on portraits, collaborating with local designers, and shooting for books and magazines (online and print), and, most recently I’m loving collaborating with writer and queer fashion blogger Nic de Luna. Here’s a sneak peek. Check out the blog for more! 

NicDeLuna.com

Stardust

Every now and then I open my eyes and glimpse the stardust that weaves through the galaxy and connects us all. To our shared histories. To the endless possibilities of the future. Through photography I step out of the ashes and into the stars.

Photographic Vision

Vision can be elusive. We may not always have an immediate conscious reaction to the world, may not understand our feelings about the story in front of us. In these times, it is often the case that the camera becomes more than a means to record our vision; it becomes the means to help clarify it. The act of looking through the frame, of excluding other angles and elements, of bringing chaos into order, can bring our vision to the surface. This ability to help us see means, in some way, that the camera is a partner with us in the process, and it is what separates photographers from painters. We have a symbiotic relationship -- not with the camera technology but with the frame, which, for all the technological changes photography has been through, remains the constant.

- David duChemin, Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision.

Starting something...

Gratitude and Celebration

It's back to school time, and though my students are adults, I've been thinking a lot about how much we can all learn from my cousin's five year old sons. Though I don't see them as often as I'd like, I have always loved watching them play. The twins just started kindergarten.

I realized that one of the things I love see most is that they haven't learned that they "can't" do something, or can't do it in a certain way (kitchen knives and hot pans aside). They are discovering new things every day.

As we grow up, we learn we are better at some activities than others. We are encouraged down different paths. We begin to be assigned labels. We practice different skills.

Yes, some things come more naturally (I have never been able to understand car engines, no matter how hard my father tried), and we generally like doing things we excel at, but we also build the muscles we use. For me, those are often creative in nature. The way I see. How I solve problems. The tools I use to make images. And it isn't easy. I hear people talk about talent like it's something that just shows up, delivered by the proverbial stork. Or Santa Claus.

Like many people, I've had my share of ruts and setbacks. This happened recently (for two years) and I felt so frustrated and confused by this art of mine. I kept pulling out the camera because I knew I had to do it - I had to stay alert and I also needed to stay connected to the pathways through my brain and heart that seek out the beautiful and the curious. I knew I was making something, but I couldn't see where it was going.

After conversations with friends, therapy sessions, a few bottles of wine, and travels from one coast to the other and back again, one day, sitting in an airport, all of the pieces came together. After two years, I finished the body of work within a few weeks. As my life came into alignment, so did my art. The day I put the final words to paper to describe this journey, I submitted the work for the first time. And now I sit in wonder that this creation is a finalist in Photolucida's Critical Mass. I received the email a few days ago and haven't been able to find words to adequately express my humble gratitude, my shocked amazement.

One body of work is now complete and slowly making it's way out into the world. Another hangs from magnets in my office - resequenced daily. It is still growing. This weekend I began planning something new and I am excited to see yet another path for exploration. Another way of working with love, longing, connection, memory, home.

Today I write to remember this moment and to celebrate the triumph of continuing to create, whatever comes next. And I write to thank you for traveling through this journey with me.

…You can see the full body of work on my website, maricofayre.com

NYC > PDX. Day 5.

Wednesday. 

The road seems to keep getting longer. We're both quieter than we were a couple of days ago. All of the postcards have been written and mailed. Sometime tonight we'll make it home, but we have the Boise heat, the wildfires in eastern Oregon, sunset in the Columbia Gorge, and many, many bottles of coconut water and iced tea to get through first. 

NYC > PDX. Day 4.

Tuesday. 

Climbing the Rockies. Altitude sickness. A very fully packed car. THE BEST PEACHES. Photos. Photos. Moab. Photos. It's almost midnight...I think we're somewhere in Utah, now?

NYC > PDX. Day 3.

Monday. 

Woke up in Omaha in a real house (thanks Jack's in-laws!) and then made gluten-free, vegan blueberry pancakes. Because that's how we roll. 

We're covering a lot of miles every day, so today we decided to be tourists for a few minutes and stop at the Pony Express station. Turns out it is exactly halfway between NYC and PDX. I think we're going to make it!

NYC > PDX. Day 2.

Sunday. Woke up in a terrible, terrible motel outside of Cincinnati. And what do you do when in a terrible motel? First, open the door to let out the smell of stale smoke. Then, PHOTOSHOOT! 

And then diner coffee. A lot of diner coffee. 

NYC > PDX. Day 1.

Saturday. 

We woke up in style at Kimpton's posh Ink48, knowing it might be the last comfortable bed we saw until we reached Portland and home. Then there was traffic. A lot of traffic. All the way through NJ and into Pennsylvania. (Pennsylvania is a very. long. state.) We sang along with the Fun Home soundtrack for awhile and pointed out references from the show the night before. (We were on I-80 after all, basically driving from shore to shore.) 

Last Day in NYC. (for awhile)

Bestie + road trip buddy arrives on a redeye from PDX. Hotel and shower. Coffee. Subway. Sister. LES. Tea.. Pala's Pizza. Bluestocking. Coffee. 3D printing. Happy Hour. Blisters. Favorite restaurants. Central Park. FUN HOME. Hotel. Wine and photos in the lobby with best friends. Hugs that last forever and not nearly long enough. Falling asleep looking out at the Hudson. 

NEW WORK: Cartographers of Memory

I was raised on stories I didn’t believe, but wanted to. Fairy tales and family histories that changed with every retelling. Through empty roads and conversations around kitchen tables, I learned that every moment is both a discovery and a loss. The facts of our lives become history, until we have only pieces of memory woven into a personal mythology.

My grandmother, Tutu, had a stroke last February, at the age of 92. Four months later she told me that she could no longer laugh or cry, but that she still had a universe of thoughts inside her mind. For this woman of passion and chaos, a house was never enough space for all of her paper sculptures, her pianos and violins, her inventions and ideas. Now she sits in a chair in her daughter’s house, surrounded by beige walls, her mind filled with emotions and desires she struggles to express.

When I was a child her life existed for me as a series of unbelievable tales: training as a concert violinist in New York and drawing maps during WWII. Building a house in southern California out of barn doors and stained glass windows. Intentionally burning toast every morning. Befriending movie stars and opera singers and getting married four times to three husbands, but raising five daughters on her own.

At 30 I realized the stories were real. Without knowing it, I spent three years retracing many of my grandmother’s dreams – from New York City to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Adventure is her legacy.

These images, captured during my travels to San Miguel, are part family album, memoir, poem, and prayer. In the high desert, all of our masks and facades are scoured away in the wind and the dust, washed clean in the afternoon rain. The land here is made of light. It is sunbaked stone and agave plants and women emerging from their old lives like butterflies into the sharp sunlight.

This is a map of my search for my family’s history and my own home. The photographs show the expansion of a life, of becoming part of a world vaster and more fantastic than the books that fed my childhood dreams. But pause and reverse, see the images backwards, and they tell the story of a life that now turns inward, contained within four walls. And the universe of her mind. My world is now the one expanding, while Tutu’s becomes ever more still.

...You can see the full body of work on my website, maricofayre.com...

#MakeItHappen

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Today - write a book, start a band, start a company, rebuild a motorcycle, bake a cake, pack a suitcase and board a train. Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.

Love each other.

Love yourselves.

And celebrate!

Seeds

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I am fascinated by the people we become when we travel, whether it is a day trip to the beach or nine months in Mexico. There is freedom in discovering who we are in a new place. I started reading myths and fairy tales about as soon as I could sound out the words. The goddesses were my favorite (no surprise there), and the heroines who changed their fates, but there was one that I just couldn't understand at age eight or twelve or even twenty-six. I tried and tried and I couldn't understand why Persephone would eat the pomegranate seeds. The daughter of a goddess had to know she was changing her fate, either that or she was the dumbest character ever written.

And then I lived. I grew up and I got married and got divorced. I traveled, moving first to the desert and then to New York City. I turned thirty-plus and one night, I understood. We all go to hell. Sometimes we choose the journey, more often we are pulled into the darkness kicking and screaming. And then. We emerge one day, changed. Broken, patched together, and, if we're lucky and a little bit wise, stronger and more awake than we were before.

Persephone didn't naively eat a handful of seeds. She wasn't forced or coerced into staying, however violent her original transformation. The young girl became a queen in the darkness.

In the sunlight she dances, and as the leaves turn, she hears the whispers begin again and she walks into the earth, steadily. Maybe she follows the bread crumbs, or maybe she has learned to see in the darkness.

Breathing and Being

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These days I often feel like I'm living in a dream. The air is thick and heavy and I have a hard time keeping my thoughts together. They travel in waves, in circles. They travel on the wind. It’s not so much a lack of focus as a feeling of drifting through a galaxy of thoughts and ideas – everything connected but not yet solid. As much as I want to put down roots I feel like I'm being pulled in and out in the tides. Floating and untethered. And so I do things that help ground me: baking, dancing, petting a cat, reading. And I feel myself connected to the earth again. There are so many ways that we weigh and measure time. These days, I'm learning to be. To pause and measure life not by how much I'm doing, but by the quality of the moment. Allowing the smell of wood smoke and the vibrant red of a too-ripe tomato fill my world. Learning to prioritize, some days better than others, what's really important. Learning what truly adds value to my life and what just takes up time.

I've been thinking a lot about history, memory, patterns, and how we learn to acknowledge, name, and accept all of the pieces of our experiences. Of ourselves. And so today I send this wish to all of you.

May there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Bringing our whole selves to what we create...

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It’s true that I overthink everything. Including this post, which is why I blog infrequently, at least when there are words involved. I have a somewhat simpler time communicating with images, though only marginally. Recently I’ve had so many conversations about what I create and why - friends, other artists, strangers at theater performances...The “why” really is key for me, and it’s a big part of what I ask students to define in their thesis work. And yet, perhaps I sometimes overthink even that. (If I'm honest, there’s no perhaps about it.) I can often become immobilized by my need to create work with a deep and lasting purpose – work that will change the world and connect with people emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. It’s a tall order.

When it comes right down to it, why do I pick up the camera at a given moment? Because I have to do it. I want to remember. I am curious by nature and I use photography as a way of capturing experiences and sharing them with others. I also use photography as an integral part of my explorations and process. Through the images I create, I begin to see myself more clearly, to understand my experiences, to communicate my feelings.

Looking at a series of images, I see the journey. Sometimes images that began with one story develop into something new – in hindsight.

Often, the act of pausing and opening myself up in order to create allows me to pause and to fully be present in my experience. Like many of us, I learned to numb my emotions from an early age and present a pretty picture (pardon the pun). I was “nice,” and so “happy,” and “mature for my age.” The compliments that I collected as a child turned into a cage woven from good intentions. After three decades I am only now beginning to fully embrace the vast array of feelings and reactions I have every day. The anger. Fear. Grief. Uncertainty. And I am finding that the emotions I was so terrified would eat me alive or turn me into a brittle shell are, in fact, opening the doors to joy, gratitude, exuberance, and imagination.

Beauty and darkness exist in everything – the two sides of the human experience. Attempting to ignore one inherently diminishes the other. This is a lesson I captured in images for years without really seeing it.

Every fleeting moment is a discovery and a loss. A way to remember and a temptation to live in the past. A search and a recognition. Each image shows where I have been - how I became the person I am - at the same time that it allows me to move forward and decide where I am going.

Seven Days: July 20

Seven Days: July 13

Seven Days: July 6