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...

NEW WORK: Cartographers of Memory

CofM_025     CofM_026 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...

Seeds

persephone_3images.jpg

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.

Seeds

persephone_3images.jpg

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.

Reflecting

reflection_apr14_0050_sm2.jpg

For years I walked around with a camera in my hand or my purse - usually a Pentax 35mm loaded with b&w film. At one point the light meter stopped working (while I was in Paris). 28 rolls later, I became very good at making informed guesses about the light. Every now and then the film wouldn't advance and the afternoon of swimming with friends in an Oregon river, or the portrait of the girl with a pipe and red boots, would be lost to memory. Discovering the images as the prints developed - looking at the scene anew, always a little amazed when everything came together just as I imagined - that is an experience that can't be replicated or replaced. Almost 10 years ago I bought my first digital camera and began the shift that eventually saw me donating six film cameras and a car full of darkroom equipment in order to travel more, and travel light.

My purse is now more likely to hold a laptop and a phone than a camera, though there are moments like this when I still reach for the ghost of that Pentax.

Reflecting

reflection_apr14_0050_sm2.jpg

For years I walked around with a camera in my hand or my purse - usually a Pentax 35mm loaded with b&w film. At one point the light meter stopped working (while I was in Paris). 28 rolls later, I became very good at making informed guesses about the light. Every now and then the film wouldn't advance and the afternoon of swimming with friends in an Oregon river, or the portrait of the girl with a pipe and red boots, would be lost to memory. Discovering the images as the prints developed - looking at the scene anew, always a little amazed when everything came together just as I imagined - that is an experience that can't be replicated or replaced. Almost 10 years ago I bought my first digital camera and began the shift that eventually saw me donating six film cameras and a car full of darkroom equipment in order to travel more, and travel light.

My purse is now more likely to hold a laptop and a phone than a camera, though there are moments like this when I still reach for the ghost of that Pentax.

Dreaming a Year into Being

2013.jpg
I thought that I would sit down this week and write a recap of the last year - the changes and challenges and travels and projects. Life happened and now we are hours from a New Year. As I sit here, thinking of words, I realize that I feel overwhelmingly grateful and full. This year, for the first time in a long time, I know that I truly lived each day to the furthest reaches of possibility. I am fully myself, and continue to be - to just be - every new day. This year continued to show me the power of connection and community and the importance of personal strength. This year I have learned how to really belong to and in the world. And so, at the beginning of this New Year, I send these wishes to you, my community, and I hold these thoughts within myself as I cross another threshold.>

Be bold. Live fiercely and unapologetically. Build what inspires and sustains you. Be full and passionate and completely present. Dream without editing and create without fear.

I am so excited to see what we can do with each new day.

Dreaming a Year into Being

2013.jpg
I thought that I would sit down this week and write a recap of the last year - the changes and challenges and travels and projects. Life happened and now we are hours from a New Year. As I sit here, thinking of words, I realize that I feel overwhelmingly grateful and full. This year, for the first time in a long time, I know that I truly lived each day to the furthest reaches of possibility. I am fully myself, and continue to be - to just be - every new day. This year continued to show me the power of connection and community and the importance of personal strength. This year I have learned how to really belong to and in the world. And so, at the beginning of this New Year, I send these wishes to you, my community, and I hold these thoughts within myself as I cross another threshold.>

Be bold. Live fiercely and unapologetically. Build what inspires and sustains you. Be full and passionate and completely present. Dream without editing and create without fear.

I am so excited to see what we can do with each new day.

The Taste of Memory

img_5523.jpg

I’m reflecting a lot this week - looking back over images and words from the past year. Remembering countries, people, projects, conversation. One thing is particularly obvious: I remember in food. (And shoes, but I haven’t been capturing pictures of those, whereas I seem have hundreds of ubiquitous food shots.) At first I questioned the sheer quantity of food I have eaten over the past eleven months. Then I realized that far from being a boring, daily necessity food is - for me - a marker of important moments with multiple sensory triggers that transport me backward through time to the first meeting, a reunion, solitary meals in a new city, pancakes as big as my head.

Through food, I share love. Create experiences. Connect with new acquaintances and delight in the act of preparing a meal with good friends. What gathering doesn’t include food? We use it to comfort, to connect, to forget.

I use it to remember.

The Taste of Memory

img_5523.jpg

I’m reflecting a lot this week - looking back over images and words from the past year. Remembering countries, people, projects, conversation. One thing is particularly obvious: I remember in food. (And shoes, but I haven’t been capturing pictures of those, whereas I seem have hundreds of ubiquitous food shots.) At first I questioned the sheer quantity of food I have eaten over the past eleven months. Then I realized that far from being a boring, daily necessity food is - for me - a marker of important moments with multiple sensory triggers that transport me backward through time to the first meeting, a reunion, solitary meals in a new city, pancakes as big as my head.

Through food, I share love. Create experiences. Connect with new acquaintances and delight in the act of preparing a meal with good friends. What gathering doesn’t include food? We use it to comfort, to connect, to forget.

I use it to remember.

Thoughts on Identity

fernando_aug13_4226.jpg

Walking down the streets on a coffee break, picking up lunch, running errands - I was constantly aware of the perceptions of others. Perhaps it was because I was always looking, watching, studying how people looked at one another, at themselves, how their features changed based on light, weather, the day of the week. In the beginning I always carried a camera. I stood out then, but not because I was hidden behind a lens. My identity, the face I showed the world, was all steel-toed boots, gender-bending suits, florescent feather boas. I hid by standing out - by becoming a character. And I sought to fit in through the same means. When you’re a weird kid, people rarely question what you are doing or why. (And you assume they wouldn’t understand, anyway.) It was a world of observation. Closed, except to the androgynous-neohippie-intellectual-artist-types. It was the summer before my first year in college.

Later I sought to blend in. I put on suits of a different kind, with heels and handbags, slowly expanding a wardrobe of prized Goodwill finds to include the fashionable and infinitely more corporate-America-appropriate Banana Republic sales racks. Ten years and three careers later, I gave away three dozen pairs of heels and traded boxes full of tailored slacks for skinny jeans and tank tops. I went back to digging through tables piled high with used clothes, delighting in “the find,” now measured in pesos rather than quarters.

With every transition I have discovered something of myself. Each time I put on a costume, became someone or something, I put together puzzle pieces of an identity. I like to think that I am now fluid. The heels of Manhattan give way to the sandals of San Miguel. No longer is it about appearance or the perception of others - it is the practicality of cobblestone streets, the joy of clothing I can dance in. And I am still never without a camera, whether film, phone, or digital. I still frame the world and through these images I have learned to see. This daily act of looking and recording, combined with years of costumes both on and off stage, continue to fuel my ongoing fascination with identity and the selves we show to the world. Each time someone steps in front of the lens, they are puzzles. I look to see how the pieces fit together.

Thoughts on Identity

fernando_aug13_4226.jpg

Walking down the streets on a coffee break, picking up lunch, running errands - I was constantly aware of the perceptions of others. Perhaps it was because I was always looking, watching, studying how people looked at one another, at themselves, how their features changed based on light, weather, the day of the week. In the beginning I always carried a camera. I stood out then, but not because I was hidden behind a lens. My identity, the face I showed the world, was all steel-toed boots, gender-bending suits, florescent feather boas. I hid by standing out - by becoming a character. And I sought to fit in through the same means. When you’re a weird kid, people rarely question what you are doing or why. (And you assume they wouldn’t understand, anyway.) It was a world of observation. Closed, except to the androgynous-neohippie-intellectual-artist-types. It was the summer before my first year in college.

Later I sought to blend in. I put on suits of a different kind, with heels and handbags, slowly expanding a wardrobe of prized Goodwill finds to include the fashionable and infinitely more corporate-America-appropriate Banana Republic sales racks. Ten years and three careers later, I gave away three dozen pairs of heels and traded boxes full of tailored slacks for skinny jeans and tank tops. I went back to digging through tables piled high with used clothes, delighting in “the find,” now measured in pesos rather than quarters.

With every transition I have discovered something of myself. Each time I put on a costume, became someone or something, I put together puzzle pieces of an identity. I like to think that I am now fluid. The heels of Manhattan give way to the sandals of San Miguel. No longer is it about appearance or the perception of others - it is the practicality of cobblestone streets, the joy of clothing I can dance in. And I am still never without a camera, whether film, phone, or digital. I still frame the world and through these images I have learned to see. This daily act of looking and recording, combined with years of costumes both on and off stage, continue to fuel my ongoing fascination with identity and the selves we show to the world. Each time someone steps in front of the lens, they are puzzles. I look to see how the pieces fit together.

Stories

brooklyn_aug13_4429.jpg

Between one breath and the next, a moment is captured. Frozen. A story is created that will come to define the memories of a place, a day, an experience that can never be relived but will be recreated with every viewing. Truth and fiction in every frame. This is my art - witnessing and creating in equal measure.

Stories

brooklyn_aug13_4429.jpg

Between one breath and the next, a moment is captured. Frozen. A story is created that will come to define the memories of a place, a day, an experience that can never be relived but will be recreated with every viewing. Truth and fiction in every frame. This is my art - witnessing and creating in equal measure.

In Gratitude

framed_charlie_1231.jpg

On this day, two years ago, my life changed. It has continued to change many times since, in big ways and small, but that was one beginning. Every day I am grateful for the life I am building - the surprises, the challenges, the community, the adventures. Through laughter, so much laughter, and through tears. With plenty of dancing, some long nights, rooftop meals, and many incredible friends to support me along the way.

Each day I create this life in gratitude and awe, and each day I look for what more I can do - how I can be more open, giving, joyful, compassionate, present, and brave. Though the days and the locations shift and flow, there are a few core elements that I know establish the foundation for everything else that follows: connection, inspiration, curiosity, and the need to do something in the world that matters.

I am never on this journey alone. I thank you. All of you. You inspire and encourage me every day to live fearlessly, to work harder, to continue becoming.

Between now and the end of the year, I would like to share some of the incredible collaborations and adventures that made up 2013. So, in case you haven't yet met, this is Charlie. Last summer, we had the fantastic experience of shooting a series for [FRAMED] with Brooke Shaden.

In Gratitude

framed_charlie_1231.jpg

On this day, two years ago, my life changed. It has continued to change many times since, in big ways and small, but that was one beginning. Every day I am grateful for the life I am building - the surprises, the challenges, the community, the adventures. Through laughter, so much laughter, and through tears. With plenty of dancing, some long nights, rooftop meals, and many incredible friends to support me along the way.

Each day I create this life in gratitude and awe, and each day I look for what more I can do - how I can be more open, giving, joyful, compassionate, present, and brave. Though the days and the locations shift and flow, there are a few core elements that I know establish the foundation for everything else that follows: connection, inspiration, curiosity, and the need to do something in the world that matters.

I am never on this journey alone. I thank you. All of you. You inspire and encourage me every day to live fearlessly, to work harder, to continue becoming.

Between now and the end of the year, I would like to share some of the incredible collaborations and adventures that made up 2013. So, in case you haven't yet met, this is Charlie. Last summer, we had the fantastic experience of shooting a series for [FRAMED] with Brooke Shaden.

After the Storm

I will remember: The energy becoming tangible as a city waits. The quiet, and the need for music before the power went out. How quickly something usually taken for granted - heat, water, electricity - can become precious. The man skateboarding through a sea of leaves, lit by a flashlight, and the police car that follows. Neighbors meeting for the first time as they share cigarettes and watch the wind. Flooding on Avenue C. Buildings collapsing on 8th. And the strange peace inside these walls. Conversations in the dark outside the living room window about the eye of a storm and whether the pause in the wind could be just that. Wanting a hurricane buddy to explore the streets with me because there was so much happening and I wasn’t able to get information. So I went by myself. It’s still and quiet and getting colder and if I close my eyes I can imagine this is another place and another storm. The wind has mostly moved on and I am lulled by the drip of rain on wet leaves. I am woken from a reverie by too-close sirens. The one constant. Listening to the neighbor across the hall sing along to what sounds like a ukelele but may also be an electric guitar without electricity. Stitching a hem by hand that has needed to be repaired since summer. Sewing on buttons almost a year after they fell off. The differences in perception when we so often see only the extremes. Is it possible to experience the proverbial calm in the midst of disaster? How different is personal experience from the stories told?

Waiting

Watching silver fabric blowing sideways as the party continues in the face of an impending storm. Savoring the warmth of comfort food and the solitude of a deserted patio, conversation backlit by a crowded dining room that feels miles away. Remembering how to lose and find myself in nuances of words. Seeing hidden colors. Singing along to pop music in a darkened theater. Perusing emptying shelves and contemplating the importance we place in certain objects over others. Preparing. Dreaming. Planning. Waiting. Walking through dark streets. Feeling the wind change.