Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Framing the Shot

“The frame through which I viewed the world changed too, over time. Greater than scene, I came to see, is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”
― Eudora Welty, On Writing


“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”
― G.K. Chesterton

I am in rehearsal for the premier of a musical written and composed by two local women who have become dear friends. The title of the musical is “Girard’s Nude”, and it tells the story of an overweight, middle-aged housewife who is asked to pose for a renowned artist. It is set in the 1950s in a conservative small town in Pennsylvania. It brings up the opportunity to ponder the meaning of FRAMES in art and in life, how we see ourselves, how we see our world, and what part we allow freedom to play. 

Frames and structure are useful for lots of reasons. Containment can provide safety – a way to explore a place without feeling overwhelmed.

Framing is also a useful way to state your point of view as an artist. “This is what I want you to see and focus on!”

Mindfulness encourages the awareness of what is outside the arbitrary frames we impose on the world for our own comfort. 

Transcending the frame is perhaps the greatest artistic challenge. How do you go higher, deeper, beyond? 

Framework is worth pondering. Freedom is worth exploring. 

Thank you, Amy, for inviting us to engage with this Challenge

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Angles

Ann-Christine challenges us to illustrate the difference angles can make on our perception of the world. I am reminded of the ancient Indian story of the blind men and the elephant, retold in the poem by John Godfrey Saxe that begins like this: 

It was six men of Indostan 
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant 
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation 
Might satisfy his mind.

From my photo archives, I found an album of pictures taken five years ago next week on my “birthday cruise”. I had been working at Discovery World, a museum in Milwaukee that owns a replica of a 19th century cargo ship they named The Denis Sullivan. For my birthday, I was gifted a short trip out of the harbor and back to dock. There was absolutely no wind that day, so though we unfurled the sails, we didn’t go very far or very fast. In the calm, I found that taking photos from all different angles became the excitement of the day. 

 

My perspective on sailing Lake Michigan, therefore, was all about tranquility and discipline. The crew had everything “shipshape” and moved like clockwork. However, I’ve read accounts of shipwrecks on the lake that must have been the picture of chaos and terror.

Perspective makes a huge difference. In this complex world, we must remember the danger of a single story and humbly leave room in our imaginations for something outside of our own experience. 

So, oft in theologic wars 
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance 
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Serenity

“You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind.” — Henry David Thoreau

Six months ago, I began taking yoga classes at a local instructor’s farm. I’d only done one yoga class before in my life, so I was an apprehensive beginner. The instructor and most of the students in this group were of retirement age, however, so the pace was slow and stately. I started going once a week, then twice, as many times as classes were offered there. I began to realize my intention for serenity, a less fearful and anxious state of mind about my body and my future.

During the six months of class, I was also transitioning out of a relationship that I’d been in for the past 10 years. That relationship had begun eight months after I was widowed. My “Monkey Mind” thoughts were often on my insecurities: my aging, appearance, losses, desires, loneliness.  

In times of uncertainty, I find myself reverting to the role of the achiever. I begin to compare myself to others and try for perfection, just like I did as a student. I look for the A+ that will define and validate me. This is not a place to take refuge, however. It is a place of internal stress. Letting go of that role and allowing myself to see myself with acceptance and love brings me closer to serenity. I believe that serenity will manifest as good health and inner beauty. Yoga integrates the awareness of breath, movement, mind. Practicing with intention is transformative. Accepting change with serenity is a very beneficial skill for life, as life is always changing. 

My instructor put his farm up for sale last week. He and his wife have been there 40 years. I’m not sure how many more classes he will teach, but this morning, I purchased another ten. I intend to keep practicing. And I intend to make big changes in my life soon, too. Still, I believe I can find Serenity, when I am open to it, in every circumstance. That is the position of tadasana, mountain pose. Thank you, Tina, for inviting us to find Serenity. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Contemplating Water

“Water is the driving force in nature.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
— Thich Nhat Hahn

How is your nature allowing you to reflect reality and drive change? Just something to contemplate….

Thanks, Patti, for inviting us to share thoughts and photos on Water!

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Windows & Doors

“Our senses are our windows to the world, and sometimes the wind blows through them and disturbs everything within us. Some of us leave our windows open all the time, allowing the sights and sounds of the world to invade us, penetrate us, and expose our sad, troubled selves.” Thich Nhat Hanh

“When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else. ” – Joseph Campbell

“The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
Henry David Thoreau

This week’s challenge is brought to Lens-Artists by Leya.

Happy Interdependence!

And under this costume is, of course, the corset.

The Corset

scillagrace

We survived the festivities at Old World Wisconsin in 104 degree heat!  I wore a very special costume that had only been worn once before.  It was silk and “tropical weight” wool with beautiful accents of military buttons and lapels and florets. 

I was interviewed by Fox 6 News about my experience wearing 19th century clothing in the heat.  I relayed information about what I was wearing and how it felt and then said that I thought people in the 19th century lived more closely in harmony with their environment instead of trying to manipulate or change it.   Therefore, they get used to variations in temperature and become more resilient….or something like that.  Then I went into the church and played a few hymns on the pump organ while the assembly sang.  Then another interpreter took over and I sang descants along to some more hymns.  When that concluded…

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