Tuesday, March 30, 2010

you are what you eat ~ mark menjivar

As I was doing a "spring cleaning" of my refrigerator this afternoon, I was reminded of the work of Mark Menjivar, another Critical Mass finalist.

In Mark's words...

"you are what you eat is a series of portraits made by examining the interiors of refrigerators in homes across the united states.

for three years i traveled around the country exploring food issues. the more time i spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more i began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities. an intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits.

a refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. one person likened the question, "may i photograph the interior of your fridge?" to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. each fridge is photographed "as is." nothing added, nothing taken away.

these are portraits of the rich and the poor. vegetarians, republicans, members of the nra, those left out, the under appreciated, former soldiers in hitler’s ss, dreamers, and so much more. we never know the full story of one's life.

my hope is that we will think deeply about how we care. how we care for our bodies. how we care for others. and how we care for the land."
---mark menjivar

Bar Tender | San Antonio, TX | Goes to sleep at 8AM and wakes up at 4PM daily

Owner of Defunct Amusement Park | Alpine, TX | Former WW II Prisoner of War

Street Advertiser | San Antonio, TX | Lives on $432 fixed monthly income

Midwife/Teacher | San Antonio, TX | Week after deciding to eat local vegetables

Carpenter/Photographer | San Antonio, TX | 12-Point Buck shot on family property

Production Designer | New York, NY | 2-Person Household | Has done films for Cindy Sherman and Larry Clark.

Short Order Cook | Marathon, TX | 2-Person Household | She can bench press over 300lbs.

I'd better have a closer look at my refrigerator and figure out what it says about me...

Monday, March 29, 2010

The X-Codes

Thanks to a fellow photographer, Cynthia Bittenfield, I learned about a very exciting project spearheaded by Dorthy Moye of Decatur Georgia. It has a tie in to Passover....

Here is the abstract:

"Dorothy Moye explores the prevalence and significance of the X-code, a symbol used by search-and-rescue teams in 2005 to mark searched property in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. She considers the purposes of these codes and how returning New Orleanians felt about these symbols, as well as the stories these markings continue to tell. Moye is currently organizing a Katrina X-codes exhibition in collaboration with professional and amateur photographers under the fiscal sponsorship of the Southern Documentary Fund."

"In retrospect there was something almost biblical about those markings on all the front doors around here," writes New Orleans Times Picayune columnist Chris Rose, "posting notice of who was spared and who was not." Traditions of coding dwellings date back to descriptions in Exodus 12 (the Passover story), when markings appeared for protection instead of after-the-fact reporting. Throughout history, markings have indicated death, quarantine, ghettoization, and destruction, as well as protection. ---from project description

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I have just come thru an very interesting 24 hours of not being able to access my blog. This problem became increasing disturbing to me and instead of just walking away from it, I became obsessed and began searching the internet on how to reconnect. Over time I located websites that posted comments from other blogspot users in the midwest who were experiencing the same problem....imagine that!

I have always been very interested in how we connect and disconnect from ourselves and others (the first time being when the umbilical cord is cut and the last being when we take our last breath). The other night I was at a restaurant and watched other patrons "checking in" with their iphones and Evan Baden's work about connectivity came to mind.

So, now that I am able to access my blog (thanks to the help of internet support and resetting my modem and router),
I would like to present The Illuminati by Evan Baden.

In Evan's words...

"In Westernized cultures today, there is a generation that is growing up without the knowledge of what it is to be disconnected. The world in which we are growing up is always on. We are continuously plugged in, and linked up. We take this technology for granted. Not because we are ungrateful, but because we simply don’t know a world without it.
From our earliest memories, there has always been a way to connect with others whether it is Myspace, Facebook, cell phones, email, or instant messenger. And now, with the Internet, instant messaging, and email in our pocket, right there with our phones, we can always feel as if we are part of a greater whole. These devices grace us with the ability to instantly connect to others, and at the same time, they isolate us from those with whom we are connected. They allow for great freedom, yet so often, we are chained to them. They have become part of who we are and how we identify ourselves. These devices ordain us with a wealth of knowledge and communication that would have been unbelievable a generation ago. More and more, we are bathed in a silent, soft, and heavenly blue glow. It is as if we carry divinity in our pockets and purses."
-Evan Baden

Thank you, Evan, for discussing this incredibly important and timely subject. And thanks to the other bloggers who posted on the internet and helped me to realize that I was not alone in my being DISCONNECTED! I am one happy camper.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost Soldiers

There have been many photo essays about the lost lives that have resulted from the Iraq War. Nothing has been more potent or disturbing to me than the images I viewed in the New York Times Magazine article The Shrine Down the Hall that featured the work of Ashley Gilbertson. The images are immediate and intimate. We can all picture ourselves living with the "remains" of a loved one.

Wilfredo Perez Jnr., age 24, was killed in a grenade attack on July 26, 2003 in Baquba, Iraq. Home: Norwalk, Conneticut

Thomas M. GIlbert, age 24, was killed in an IED attack on October 25, 2006 in Falluja, Iraq. Home: Downers Grove, Illinois.

Carl L. Anderson Jr., age 21, was killed by an IED on August 29, 2004, in Mosui, Iraq. Home: Georgetown, South Carolina.

I think about the families and the heartache. Lives changed forever.
Thank you Ashley Gilbertson for driving home the true cost of war.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


"The root of our English word "mystery" is a Greek verb, muein, which means to close the mouth. Dictionaries tend to explain the connection by pointing out that the initiates to ancient mysteries are sworn to silence, but the root may also indicate it seems to me, that what the initiate learns of a mystery cannot be talked about. It can be shown, it can be witnessed or revealed, it cannot be explained."
---The Gift by Lewis Hyde

© 2009, Burn No. 34

Maybe this is why I am having so much trouble writing aritist statements!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Great Buildup

© Burn No. 8

My Epson 4800 has not been used for several months. It has been very interesting to watch my mind play with the thought of getting Bertha (my printers name) up and running again...making all kinds of deals with her. You see, the nozzles get clogged regularly, the rollers smear black ink in places it shouldn't, and Bertha doesn't always recognize the feeder friendly paper... the list goes on and on. So you can see why I was DREADing starting her up again, thinking that I may have to invest in another printer.

As the day is coming to an end, I am happy to report that I have worked out the major bugs and the printer is happily humming away...for now, anyway.

© Burn No. 74

Friday, March 19, 2010


© Jane Fulton Alt, 2008

“The goal of life is rapture,
Art is the way we experience it.”
--- Joseph Campbell

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Questions for your consideration

© Jane Fulton Alt, On the Edge, 2009

• Why do you photograph?

• What do you stop to photograph, what draws you to the subject?

• Do your photographs describe what you experience as reality?

• How do you determine where to stand in relationship to what you’re photographing?

• Are you ever in the midst of working in a particular place and you get the feeling you’re not getting anything, you don’t feel connected to it?

• What has to go on in a frame to make it interesting?

• How do you edit? How do you choose a handful that say what was really going on for you?

• What makes a photograph convincing or evocative?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Unresolved ~ Rilke

© Jane Fulton Alt 2008

"I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer."
--- Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, March 15, 2010

thoughts to ponder - part 2

“You can’t get to wonderful without passing through alright”
How do we mobilize creative thinking?

The following attitudes and activities have been found in creative people regardless of their profession

1) Training and practice of activities that uses the right brain function
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS (feeling, imagination, symbols, fantasy, risk taking) VS LEFT BRAIN that is more rational, analytical, orderly
2) Suspension of judgment
3) Openness to new ideas, new attitudes, new approaches
4) Willingness to take risks, making “leaps of faith, lessening inhibitions
5) Freedom of subjective thinking, expression of emotions and personal realities
6) Intuitiveness, playing hunches to generate spontaneous ideas
7) Freedom to make outlandish responses, rejecting fear of being wrong or unconventional
8) Rejecting destructive criticism, prejudices
9) A childlike attitude of creative play, tinkering with ideas, materials, structures, a “fun” attitude toward experimentation.
10) Freedom to fantasize, unconventional imagining
11) Divergent thinking
12) Acceptance of non-ordinary realities, contradictions, ability to tolerate ambiguities

-Write in your journal every morning
-Photograph the same object (something that attracts you) every couple of hours,
observing the change in the light
-Photograph without looking thru the lens
-Take one photograph and make 3 images out of it
-Take a photograph of something you are attracted to them sit in quiet meditation for
15minutes - re photograph the same object after meditation and see if it changes
-Photograph thru the bottom of a clear glass, or plastic, or eyeglasses…see what happens
-Take a self portrait every day

Things to consider
Photography as metaphor, poetry
Photography as a practice of subtraction
Photography as an act of surrender rather than an act of acquisition
Composition_Lighting_Vantage Point_Detail_Time_Editing

Excerpt from Wislawa Szymborska’s Nobel Lecture December 7, 1996

I've mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It's not that they've never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It's just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don't understand yourself. When I'm asked about this on occasion, I hedge the question too. But my answer is this: inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists generally. There is, has been, and will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It's made up of all those who've consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. It may include doctors, teachers, gardeners - and I could list a hundred more professions. Their work becomes one continuous adventure as long as they manage to keep discovering new challenges in it. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it's born from a continuous "I don't know." ….. This is why I value that little phrase "I don't know" so highly. It's small, but it flies on mighty wings. It expands our lives to include the spaces within us as well as those outer expanses in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended.
(the rest of the lecture can be found at http://www.janefultonalt.com/index.php?id=musings&PageID=32)

Excerpt from The Zen of Creativity by John Loori
In no mind there is no intent. The activity, whatever it may be, is not forced or strained. The art just slips through the intellectual filters, without conscious effort and without planning. In the instant there is intent there is expectation. Expectation is deadly because it disconnects us from reality. When we get ahead of ourselves, we leave the moment. No mind is living in the moment, without preoccupation or projection….hesitancy or deliberation will show in our art when we leave the moment.

Landscapes ~ Edward Weston and Liu Wei

©Edward Weston

Edward Weston is one of my all time favorite photographers. His work informed much of my work as I started out my photography practice. I have always appreciated his quote, “Composition is the strongest way of seeing." Thanks to a dear friend, Lizzie, I found this connection and find it dazzling.

©Liu Wei , Landscape Celestial mountain (in 5 parts), 2004

© Liu Wei, Zuhu, C-Print, 2008

Friday, March 12, 2010

Looking for the answer...Aleksandar Hermon ~ Love and Obstacles

"When he was young, like me, he said he used to think that all the great writers knew something he didn't. He thought that if he read their books they would teach him something, make him better; he thought he would acquire what they had: the wisdom, the truth, the wholeness, the real shit. He was burning to write, he wanted to break through to that fancy knowledge, he was hungry for it. But now he knew that that hunger was vainglorious; now he knew that writers knew nothing, really; most of them were just faking it. He knew nothing. There is nothing to know, nothing on the other side. There was no walker, no path, just walking. This was it, whoever you were, wherever you were, whatever it was, and you had to make peace with that fact....
"This?" I asked. "What is 'this'?"
"This. Everything."
---- Aleksandar Hermon, Love and Obstacles

Ragdale Typewriter 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010


As winter fades, and the early morning chirpping begins, I know we are in a period of transition. Last year I put baskets up around our garage in hopes of attracting nesting birds...no takers.

And then the other day a package arrived. I opened it up to find this.

This birdhouse was apparently quite popular in 18th-century Williamsburg. Fragments have been unearthed throughout the area, and 1752 advertisement provide further evidence of its function.

My neighbor just returned from visiting Williamsburg, saw the birdhouses, and thought I would like one. How incredibly thoughtful was that! I am so excited to put it up...may just have to purchase a few more!

Now I can say I share the bird house affinity with Frida Kahlo...see former blog.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Ragdale Weekend

I just returned from teaching a Ragdale workshop...and let me tell you, it was fabulous. Ragdale is such a special place that nourishes the mind, body, heart and soul. The participants were a great group of people and lots of laughs were had. A huge thank you to the untiring and talented staff and board members who make such an experience possible. You have nurtured many, many artists who have in turn enriched the lives of so many.

One can't help but wonder who will be the next writer sitting in this chair, reading from a manuscript that has yet to be written. Thank you Ragdale.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Fernando Pessoa XXXVI

Jane Fulton Alt, Ice No. 15, 2010

Rather the flight of the bird which passes and leaves no trace,
Than the track of the animal that is carved in the ground.
The bird passes and is forgotten and so it must be.
The animal, though no longer there and thus of no good,
Proves that it was there, but this too is of no interest.

Remembering is a betrayal to Nature
Because yesterday's Nature is Nature no longer.
What was is nothing and to remember is not to see.

Pass by, bird, pass by and teach me how to pass.

Fernando Pessoa
Sixty Portuguese Poems
University of Wales Press

Jane Fulton Alt, Ice No. 10, 2010

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Bittersweet ~ Who Knew

Who knew back then, at the tender age of 18, that bittersweet would be the defining theme of my life. I have been preparing to teach a workshop this weekend at Ragdale and in doing so, have reviewed my journey as a photographer. I remember attending a leadership training workshop in Cape Cod during the fall of my freshman year in college and the landscape was covered in bittersweet. It was my first time truly away from home, when the "whole" of life revealed itself. There was a crashing realization that not everything was what I had thought it to be. (I was so intrigued with the name of this beautiful two toned plant, that I actually carried it in my wedding bouquet).

I am fascinated by dualities that I perceive in life... self/other, mind/body, male/female, good/evil, active/passive,....and it goes on and on. The Eastern religions embrace a belief in non-dualism, suggesting that dualism or dichotomy are illusory phenomena. So very interesting....

Wisdom Tells me I am nothing.
Love tells me I am everything.
Between the two my life flows.
----- Nisargadatta Maharaj

Curtis Mann and the Whitney Biennel

© Curtis Mann

Curtis Mann is another Whitney Biennel artist (from Chicago) whose work is original and extraordinary.

Curtis Mann appropriates and manipulates found photographs to create new photographs. After re-shooting and enlarging the found image, he then physically erases portions of it through a bleaching process so that only faint traces of the original remain, replaced with an ambiguous emptiness. Other portions are painted with a varnish to resist the bleach and are left intact. Through this subtractive and additive process, Mann expands the boundaries of the medium of photography, while at the same time reflects on the fragility of the photographic image as a source of information. (info from MOCP website)

© Curtis Mann

You can read more about him on the Conscientious Blog, where Jorg Colberg has provided an extensive interview with Mann.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Jill Enfield and Wet Collodion

Ever wonder what wet collodion was? The internet is amazing. Roman Kravchenko, a Russian photographer, posted this You Tube link on Facebook. Thought I would share..thank you Roman!

One Mind, One Heart

“This world is inhabited by all kinds of people. They are isolated by land and water, religion, customs, habits. The minds and hearts of these people are much alike. Under sudden or stressed emotions, they blossom forth or explode in riots, fights, dance, song, prayer. At such times, they become one mind, one heart. And the world vibrates with the intensity of their feelings, emotions, angers, laughters.” - Gandhi