One fine-art photo I would buy…

Imogen Cunningham, “Magnolia Blossom” 1925

If I could afford to purchase Imogen Cunnigham’s photograph, “Magnolia Blossom”, I would do it in heartbeat!  I have admired this work from the moment I saw it.  It is a stunning, high-key image, yet it has a full range of values.  In the 1920’s, Cunningham started taking very detailed, close-up photographs of plant life.  She spent two years focusing on just the magnolia flower.  This image is sensual and so beautiful, and I can envision it hanging in my home.  Maybe someday!

What is your favorite photograph in your home?

Mom’s Graduation from Dowling College, 1983

Honestly, there is no one favorite!  I have so many beautiful photographs from when my husband and I first started dating back in high school, to vacations we took together, to our wedding, and then a plethora of baby pictures and beyond of our daughters, who are now 18 years old and 15 years old.  So, I decided to dig a little deeper and share this snap shot of my mother and me. It resides as part of a 5″ x 7″ collage that my Grandma Eileen (my mom’s mom) made for me. The craftsmanship of this collage leaves a lot to be desired with poorly cut pieces of photographs taped together, and a finger in one of the shots. However, it is the love and pride of my Grandma Eileen that went into it that makes this a special memento. On the back of the collage, Grandma Eileen wrote, “June 5, 1983, Carol’s Graduation from Dowling College, Straight A Student, Good Girl.”  I discovered this collage, with the above photograph as part of it, left behind in my teenage bedroom after my mother passed away in May 2011. I remember that my mother did not have the best relationship with her mother. So, the “Straight A Student, Good Girl” note on the back is proof positive for me that no matter what, my grandma was as proud of my mom as I was. Her accomplishments were no small feat!  She was a single mother and when she divorced my father she had to first earn her G.E.D before going to college to her master’s degree in psychology.

I am my mother’s daughter!  She is so much a part of the driving force in my endeavor to go back to school for a degree in Visual Arts. I denied myself the opportunity to explore this field and grow as an artist when I was younger.  I know my mother is watching over me now, and cheering me on.


Social Change

One of the biggest things I did recently to deliberately effect social change was to participate in the Commit to Change Leadership Program at Westchester Community College, last semester. In this program, we learned about the Social Change Model of Leadership which focuses on the individual, the team, and empowering the community.  We were grouped together in teams and challenged to design a project that would make a positive change in the community.  My team won the competition with our proposed project of repurposing the already existing, and forgotten garden on campus, into an organic community vegetable garden.  Our idea was a combination of giving ownership to people of growing their own vegetables and making healthier eating choices, as well as taking a baby step here on campus towards climate change prevention.  We are currently seeking volunteers to help with the garden, and we are planning to break ground with our project this spring.

A Spiritual Connection

I was posed the question; have I ever sworn that I saw something that others didn’t? This lead me down the path of a childhood memory that I felt strongly relates to this question, and I felt compelled to share it.    

When I was a little girl, somewhere under the age of ten years old, I had many experiences of what I believe now, were visits by spirits. I don’t recall seeing spirits as a child, but I did feel and hear them. The visits happened mostly as I slept in the small bedroom that my younger brother and I shared. The room had a very weird feature to it. It is something I have never seen in any other house. The closet, as I remember it to be, doubled as the entranceway to a full-size staircase that led up to the attic of the house.  Perhaps it was never meant to be used as a closet, and it was supposed to just be the entranceway to the unfinished upper level of our home.  I’m not sure, but even thinking about it now, stirs up spooky childhood memories that have stuck with me my entire life. It was surely the gateway to more than just the attic, and I mean that with all adulthood seriousness!

I remember being touched many times as I slept in that room, waking up to find nothing there, and my brother sound asleep.  One night, I was awoken to the sound of heavy footsteps.  It was so loud and real, but I was too scared to let myself believe they were coming from the attic.  Perhaps instead, it was my father walking around the kitchen with his work boots on.  On the other side of the wall that my bed was against, was the kitchen, so this was the perfect explanation.  I tried to fall back to sleep, but I kept hearing the footsteps.  I called for my father to come into my room and asked if he had just been walking around in his work boots.  When he said he was not, I got upset.  I made him stand on my bed with me, with our backs up against the wall to listen for the footsteps.  I don’t remember what happened after that except that he heard nothing.  Did I hear footsteps again with my father right by my side and he didn’t?  Did my brother sleep through all of this?  I can’t recollect.

Typical childhood monsters under the bed?  Sure, my story sounds a lot like that, and I would believe that to be the case if I didn’t continue to have experiences throughout my life that keep reaffirming to me that spirits are real, and they do visit us.  In fact, I feel that childhood stories like this are caused by spiritual visits, more often than most people would like to believe.  As children, we are not only more sensitive to spirit, but our souls have just been reborn.  Yes, I do believe we have lived passed lives.  So, as children, our connections to the spiritual world are at our strongest.  However, to alleviate our fears, the adults in our lives tell us it is not real.  We grow up not believing in the possibilities of our experiences, and by adulthood, many of us lose all openness to the energy of spirits around us.

It is not an everyday occurrence, but to this day, often enough for me to take notice of it, I continue to be touched, hear footsteps when no one is there, and when I dream of loved ones who have passed on, I know for sure they are visiting me.  My aunt also has similar experiences, which help to justify mine.  I also believe that I have seen spirits, both friendly and evil, a few times in my adult life.  They were very fleeting moments however, which makes it difficult for me to share the memories.  It is like the pieces of the puzzle are not all there, but I still don’t doubt what I experienced.  Many will not find truth or value to any of this, but for me, it is very real.  Science also proves that all living things are made up of energy and energy never dies.  When a living thing dies, it is their physical body that has died, not their soul.  For this reason, I strongly believe that I have heard, felt, and seen spirits, and I am grateful to have that spiritual connection in my life.

The visual thing that has stuck in my mind since I have seen it!

Protesters on 42nd Street in front of Grand Central Terminal during the Women's March in New York City. Credit: Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Protesters on 42nd Street in front of Grand Central Terminal during the Women’s March in New York City. Credit: Nicole Craine for The New York Times

Seeing this image in The New York Times, the day after I shuffled my way down this very path, left me in awe and it has stuck with me ever since. It is a different feeling being there, verses seeing it in a well shot photograph like this one. While there, the energy and common goals of fellow protesters was palpable. The enormity of the crowd was evident, but it was not fully realized, at least visually for me, until it was seen through the eyes of on-lookers. The play of light with the shadows cast on the crowd from the buildings, and the grayed-out sky, make this photograph visually interesting. Also, the wonderful receding perspective of the buildings and the street, help tell the story. As far back as the eye can see, there are people! People that have peacefully assembled and come together in protest. I find it magnificent, not only as an image, but also as documentation of something bigger than myself that I was a part of. The resistance has not let up one tiny bit since election day either, which makes this image even more powerful.

Interview with A Family Member

I interviewed my fifteen-year-old daughter.  These are her answers to the following questions:

  1. What is one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen?

“My cats and my dog.”

We are an animal loving family and pets are “fur babies” in our house, so I get where she is coming from.  Each of our pets were adopted as babies and we have enjoyed taking care of them together as a family.  We’ve already lost one of our cats not too long ago.  She died peacefully one night while we all slept.  It was so difficult as a mother to watch my daughter go through the loss of a most beloved cat that was undoubtedly hers.

  1. What is one of the most beautiful things you have ever experienced?

“Going on the Queen Mary.”

We have visited the Queen Mary a couple of times now and it is a spectacular ship!  On board there is a hotel, a museum, and the last time we were there we visited just for Sunday Brunch. It is on my daughter’s “to do again soon list.”

  1. What is their favorite memory or story about you?

“Going to Disneyland and going on all the fun rides together.”

Ah, my “Peanut” and I are the dare devils of our little family of four.  We went on all the scary rides together while the other two of us favored kiddie rides.  Some great memories indeed!  I do believe Jessica has ulterior motives here with her answers to these questions.

I also interviewed my husband.  Here are his answers:

  1. What is one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen?

“The photo of Madison and Jessica [our daughters] hugging each other with their eyes closed and their faces pressed together.”

This photo lives on our refrigerator.  It is dated August 2, 2002, and our daughters are four years old and one year old, respectively.  It is funny, because of all the snap shots that I have of our kids growing up, this may be the only one (perhaps there are others), that I don’t remember the moment in which it was taken.  It is a sweet and beautiful, captured fleeting moment in time, however.

"Madison and Jessica; The Photo Without a Memory", August 2, 2002

“Madison and Jessica; The Photo Without a Memory”, August 2, 2002

  1. What is one of the most beautiful things you have ever experienced?

“Madison’s acceptance into SUNY Albany.”

SUNY Albany is my husband’s alma mater, and it was Madison’s top choice, so it was a beautiful moment.

  1. What is their favorite memory or story about you?

“Years ago, when we were taking a day trip into the city with our friends Emily and Ian, we spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  After a full day of walking around we went to the Carnegie Deli for Dinner.  While waiting on line for a table, in walks Henny Youngman, who is brought to the front of the line, where we were standing.  I turn to my friends and point out Henny Youngman, with amazement.  Emily and Ian both look up and repeat, “Henny Youngman!”  Beth looks up and asks, “who is Henny Youngman?”  

My husband and I have known each other since high school and we have been together almost as long.  Of all the years and memories we have together, this is his favorite memory of me?  What can I say, I’m not one for knowing and remembering famous people’s names, especially those that I may not be particularly a fan of.  It was a funny moment though.  It is interesting too, as we have just learned that the famous Carnegie Deli closed their doors for good on December 30, 2016.