As fleeting as childhood.

For me, and I would wager for most photographic artists, photographs evoke memories. In the moment after they are captured, they change. The person smiles, the bird lands, the artist moves to a different angle, the sun comes out. Anytime I look at an image I made I can feel the sharp wind on my exposed skin, or smell the wet char from a landscape that burned months ago, hear the woman’s laughter, taste the orange marmalade made by my friend the summer before. (It can make editing difficult, especially in the days just after a shoot.)

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My photographs don’t create these moments for anyone else, and I don’t expect you to join me and my nostalgia, but I do hope that by recording moments that pass as soon as they are captured we can have a shared experience that is different than, larger than, my memory alone.

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For the past six weeks, I've been shooting for an exhibition and book Small Talk Collective is putting together (funded by a RACC grant!) and thinking a lot about what remains, what impressions we leave on the earth, and the impressions images leave on us. As a group, we decided to explore a prompt based on the Tibetan word shul: "a mark that remains after that which made it has passed by" or "an impression of something that used to be there."

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For me, this describes photography as a whole. I was seized by so many different ideas that I had no clue what I actually wanted to make. I was also shooting in both Mexico and the US, which doesn't usually make for a very consistent aesthetic.

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It took going back to my childhood home and walking in the woods with my dad to see what I needed to make and where my work is going next. 

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Please join Small Talk for our gallery opening and book release at Pushdot Studio in Portland on First Friday, April 6th from 6-8pm! It's Portland Photo Month and we're excited to be part of it all. You can get philosophical about the fleeting nature of photographs/memory or just have a drink and see what my ladies have been up to. 

Gratitude and Celebration

Three generations. And a lot of matriarchs.

Three generations. And a lot of matriarchs.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Gratitude and Celebration

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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

Notes to Remember

The hope in mid-day sun. The feel of weathered tempera. The weight of language. The warmth of community. The sound of fireworks, so close you can touch the sparks. The layering of freckles. The treachery of cobblestones. The look and feel of tradition. The bond of music. The taste of mango juice on sun-warmed skin. The texture of shadow. The evolution of colors. The audacity of pigeons. The grace in a smile. The heat of the dance floor. The freedom of nights alone. The opportunities in a breath. The luxury of water. The influence of rooftop mojitos. The inspiration of transformation. The solidarity of women. The possibilities of light.

Reflection of a New Moon

Walking the city at night has a magical quality. The color of light, the tiniest sliver of a yellow moon, the ring of footsteps on cobble stones, the shimmer of breath in the night air, so recently thick with the heat of a golden sun. It is the same wherever I go - from small midwestern towns, to Manhattan, to the heart of Mexico, high in the Sierra Madres. There are possibilities illuminated in the darkness that we wouldn’t dare to dream by daylight.

Reflections

I’ve gone from creating worlds to describing them - exploring the nuances of color and texture, the changes in meaning that occur with every shift of light. I no longer feel the need to record my presence in the world - the act of creating is proof enough. I was here. I saw. This.

Time and Space

Miles feel shorter at 90mph. Or maybe time means something different here. I could stop at any point along this highway and shoot for hours. And yet there is magic in racing through the changing colors into new light, always having the camera close at hand, ready to seize images in a split second that becomes a memory.

The Backstory

A combination of love and loss stopped my writing over a decade ago and righteous angst resulted in two garbage bags full of shredded journal pages. Now life and technology offer a new direction, where words no longer serve as the balm for fear.

The theme of the last year has been learning to have faith - in myself, in life, in the people I care about, and in the work that I do. I thought I had a pretty good idea about what my life was going to be like, until I became trapped in the comfort of familiarity.

Now, I am collecting myself. In preparation. For something I can't quite see. It shimmers like a mirage, but I feel it ahead of me. In the desert.