Happy New Year! Happy Valentine's Day! Yes, a little more than fashionably late but I was just not feeling compelled to write the usual things as the calendar changed over to a new set of digits. No resolutions. No over-the-shoulder reflections. No sappy promises for plans of a fabulous whatever. I'm trying a new approach. Just do it. Dream it. Live it. Stop talking. Just do..... 2014 saw me turn 55 and will see me become an empty nester as my last 'baby' steps out into the world and makes his way. There is a lot of restructuring energy going on these days with not a lot of time to sit and wonder about it all. Time is fleeting and feels even more so these days. I'm trying to develop the fine art of slowing down and savoring the richness of the moments presented to me every day as I also take advantage of a multitude of opportunities crossing my path.
Dream it. Live it. Just do it.
Nothing is wrong. Everything is right. I've just resurfaced from a particular busy spell in life.... The fall brought my first big public participation in our local Open Studio Art Tours and it's been a happy madhouse ever since. The 6 Chicks Popup Gallery was a great success. Our 2 months went on to 3. While I'm happy to have my weekends back, I miss it. Met some wonderful people. Had the thrill of seeing some of my works go off to live in NYC, Michigan, Las Vegas, Boston, and local abodes. Loved meeting the folks who visit my magical corner of the desert. Intriguing conversations. Friendly, warm souls.
<----- A lovely couple who purchased one of my favorite little rag matte paper framed prints - joshua trees silhouetted against one our iconic sunsets... now gracing the wall of their NYC home...
After 6 Chicks closed its doors, (We decided it was time for a creative hiatus...) came several weekends of workshops for me. What to make now? Where to go with it? It's a process trying to figure all that out and, sometimes, a bit of unraveling needs to be done to get there. And sometimes, a lot. I was told that I'm "all over the map" with my photography and that was after only seeing a few snippets. New to the world of portfolios, I didn't really know what to show, so I showed a little bit of everything. At least the things that have sold or gotten some notice. Yes, all over the map would define that collection. Portraits. Street photography. Moody desert photos. Accidental captures that turned out 'pretty good'.
But what's my story? I had the pleasure of attending a "unearthing" workshop recently that turned me 180 degrees to figure that out. Visual Narratives - taught by Susan Burnstine (One of the most intriguing fine art photographers I have had the pleasure to meet and be inspired by), and sponsored by Medium San Diego (a wonderful independent organization whose 'mission is to foster awareness and understanding of innovative photography'). I left there with words like "harsh", "fragile", "regret", and "survival" to mull over as 'my words'. But those weren't it. None of them tasted right. Not alone anyway.
And that is where "Querencia" comes in. Querencia is a beautiful word that struck me to the core even before I knew what it meant. In Spanish, “querencia” describes a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home. It comes from the verb “quere”, which means to desire, to want. This could mean that favorite sweater worn almost religiously when you need to feel comforted; that coffee cup reached for every morning because of the way it feels in your hands; that time of year when you step outside and go "Aaahhhh...." and wish every day could feel like this; the group of friends you have dinner with every month at your favorite cafe. Querencia is where we gather our strength.
Our bodies know querencia. If we pay attention, we can find it even when we are miles away from our physical structure known as 'home'. And sometimes, that structure - the house, apartment, condo - doesn't feel like home at all. It's just a place to land at the end of long days filled with busyness....
Querencia. All creatures crave it. The doves that desperately make their haphazard nests in precarious places over and over again. The cactus wren that tucks its nest deep into a cholla to return to spring after spring. The swallows who travel great distances back to where they were born to propogate their species - as do the migrating whales, sea turtles, salmon, and geese. I follow a fellow photographer/artist whose "Querencia" is her traveling camper van and her dog, Max. Those wheels take her all over the United States while she documents life as she experiences it. On the road all the time, just her and her dog, yet she has "Querencia". (You can read about her adventures here: Alison Travels ) I've seen where 'home' was literally a lean-to shabbily structured out of found materials. Certainly not "appropriate" by upper and middle class standards but "Querencia" to the inhabitants.
Querencia does not have a specific look. Home. It's where all Beings feel safe. It exudes strength, familiarity, comfort, a sense of belonging.
And so begins my body of work as I reach deeper inside. It might look like it is "all over the map" but then, so is "Querencia".
Where is yours?