Soft Eyes/Open Heart – Individual Title
- Selected for Photobook of the Year
(Davis Orton Gallery/Griffin Museum of Photography)
- 1 Title of the Series of Ten
These Cannot Be Un Seen
This is the book that started it all. These are the images that have never been composited, nor will be, that sustained my work for Loss and Beauty: creating solace in a land of infinite sorrow. No one has ever seen these standalone images. This made me sad, so I created These Cannot Be Un/Seen. Of course the title also refers to once having seen the Holocaust sites, they cannot be unseen.
Dr. Tomasz Cebulski writes in his foreword "Keron Psillas redefines the two pillars of memory (the sites of memory and the testimony of survivors) by bringing the imagery of obvious sites into non-obvious framing. The framing removing US from our visual comfort zone and forcing us into new explorations. Her work experience with Holocaust survivors is almost tangible in the images she artfully captures."
The purchase of Un/Seen supports my work for Loss and Beauty: Descent into Darkness, the second part of the Loss and Beauty project.
This autobiographical volume tells the story of my move from my home of 44 years to Seattle, Washington. Setting off on an adventure into something completely unknown is mirrored in the first image of sailing into a fog bank. Eventually I found a tenuous connection on Whidbey Island, in a community of people that are now my second family. With story-like captions, I'll take you along on the journey.
Bob Stahl, beloved figure in the NW Photo Circle, has this to say in his foreword for Westward, Look: "The images in Westward, Look share a common thread of being fully present. And though this is a small book it is large and generous in spirit. I commend it highly."
Turn Toward Home
How do we photograph something so familiar as to feel it is part of our physical being? This was the question I had when I would come back to the East Coast, and to Shepherdstown particularly. I didn't even attempt it, seriously, until I had been gone a few years. The images in Turn Toward Home speak to my longing for home, and speak to the value of going back, and back, and back. They speak to the value of knowing something so deeply you can see the colors and contours when you close your eyes, you can see the seasons change and feel the joy, again, on finding that particular clump of tulips that you love, or sadness to see the health declining in a beloved Dogwood tree that was part of your experience for decades. Turn Toward Home, in photography as in life, there is fullness there. There are lessons and learning and contentment when we see our own evolution as we photograph our changing and unchanging 'home'.
Mark Muse, extraordinary landscape photographer and my longtime design and book making partner, offers these words in his foreword to Turn Toward Home: (Speaking of Shepherdstown area..."There is so much here. But when one lives in and sees a place everyday, one stops seeing. It is the nature of our brain function. The trick, if there really is one, is to see anew, to see what others do not, and present it in some meaningful form enriched with our emotional or intellectual connection to it. Easier said than done! Here is Keron’s deeply realized connection."
Scotland holds a very special place in my heart. I first visited in the winter of 2003. I've returned many times, always eager to immerse myself in the engaging personalities, marvelous accents, and peerless natural beauty. Leading several tours to Skye and the other Hebrides over the years has allowed me to fully embrace the wildness, the windswept moors and intimate coves. I can't wait to return. I'm often asked what my favorite destination is. If I had to pick one, I do think it would be Scotland.
From my dear friend and landscape photography master, Charlie Waite:
As a photographer, I love the gift of the "go back". It allows me to get a deeper feeling for the land each time I visit. My purpose, whether it is one visit or the first of many, is to immerse myself in the sense of place. Often I start that before I arrive, having read some literature of the time or listened to music of the place I am visiting. And then, with soft eyes and an open heart I just breathe myself into the space. A few of the images in the book are places I know intimately, and a few are the result of several visits. The common thread across each of them is my deep caring for the time and space that helped me to create the photograph.
From the generous foreword by Tony Sweet:
Flowers in Ice? Weird! But wait...not so much. They are lovely. The isolation of their form gives the viewer a chance to appreciate the flower as a timeless object. Getting to grips with all the techniques needed to create successful iced flowers took a while. But each step was rewarding. I have new ideas racing around in my mind and heart, so stay tuned for Winter Garden II!
From the kind and generous foreword from my beloved colleague and landscape master, Charlie Waite: "...her understanding of the often complex relationships of colour and form is second to none. With her sometimes joyful, comic, and always romantic garden collection, Keron uplifts us and with such pure delicacy, she transports us right into the very heart of beauty and for this we are all hugely grateful."
From the Introduction:
The first image in the Flowers collection is one from very early in my quest to become a photographer. Made in late April in Paris, in 2006, it holds a special significance. It has the power of affirmation. It is a simple photograph from what was then, a new to me point of view. But several weeks later while visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I saw his painting of butterflies and poppies, all on a green background. I was overwhelmed with the thought that somehow I had seen something in the same manner as this great artist.
Please don’t misunderstand; I am not comparing my vision to his. Rather I am speaking to a thread that ran from one artist to another, a connection, fragile though it might be, it is powerfully present for me. It made me think ‘this is possible’. Ever since that moment of crouching down to see what the bees see and the ants inhabit and the caterpillar knows intimately, I have been gazing at flowers and plants either directly or from underneath. I want to meet them at eye level, as an equal. I don’t want to look down on them to create a photograph. They should have their own stature, their own full-bodied presence.
Sue Bishop, revered floral photographer from England, writes this in her foreword about Flowers, Volume I: The joy of flower photography comes from losing oneself in the curve of a petal edge, the subtle interaction of colours, the jewel of a raindrop. In trying to find the essence of the flower, and to capture one’s emotional response to that. Keron’s images are full of this joy and intimacy. They are a true celebration of flowers and of the beauty to be found in them.
The joy of just playing is the intent with this series of images. I had such a great time photographing a floor in the Voorlinden Museum in Holland. The artist (yes, it is an art installation), Gerhard Korsmit, uses random numbers and papers pulled from a hat to choose the shape and color of the 'tiles'. I thought that if the artist could be random and playful I could take it another step further and use Intentional Camera Movement to see what would happen to the colors and shapes when blended! So the book is playful and brilliant and serious at the same time.
Charles Needle, good friend and abstract photography master has this to say about the book: Each awe-inspiring, soul-stirring photograph is a powerful testimony to the importance of play and movement — two essentials in life. Ultimately, Keron’s book reminds us all to see more deeply and not be afraid to let go of preconceived thoughts and ideas. She also reminds us to remember to find joy in the image-making process and suspend all judgment and self-doubt. In doing so, Keron proves you can make art from anything, even a museum floor!
Perhaps my second favorite book in the collection, One Afternoon tells the story of a memorable few hours careening around Havana with my friend and mentor, Sam Abell. We two were seeking the picture, and seeking big fun. We found both.
I'm pleased to offer this book in the collection, particularly for students of photography. I believe it stands out as an example of the photographic poem, as an example of a fast but deep project, and as an essay on the pure joy that photography can bring.
From Sam in his own inimitable way with words..."please admire Keron's photographs of the day, as I do. But kindly add a little context. Her images were made under a degree of duress. I genuinely tried not to take over the best vantage points in our cramped, leaking taxi. And I did share space with Keron until seriously exciting picture possibilities presented themselves. Then the pure spirit of the original Mr. Toad took me over and I hogged the best space. I couldn't help myself. I was too happy! So was crowded, cramped, rained-upon Keron. We were both giddily happy making photographs and egging on the taxi driver. Nothing else--not the storm, the incoming water, the traffic or our bewildered driver--mattered. Rapido! Mas Rapido!! So all by itself the sheer speed, edge of danger and physical pleasure of the ride made it a memorable day out.
My first visit to Cuba happened under unique circumstances. I was not leading a tour. This is rare for me with travel opportunities. But as the group was arranged by Santa Fe Workshops for a private client, we did see many of the 'usual' spots. And they are great spots! Upon my return with my own group several years later, I wanted to share a few of the locations with my students. Hence, the title Everyone Goes. But the 'everyone' in the title comes from a much larger group than photographic workshop participants. Vogue cover stories, Nat Geo stories, tourists searching for the best meal, and people wanting to know about the culture of Dance in Cuba will all avail themselves of these coveted locations. I am no different. What is different, as it would be for every photographer, is the desire to connect with a place and with people, so that our own voice comes through in our images. I can't wait to return to Cuba and I will visit each of these three locations again...to see old friends and deepen my connection. But there is much more to discover as well!
From the gracious foreword by Elizabeth Opalenik: “Keron sees with the heart inviting us to experience the moments in life that may go unnoticed. She includes the viewer in the simple joy of being present to witness the light, the gesture, the grace in the intimacy of the spaces and people she touches with her art. I’d follow Keron anywhere, happy to be lost in the timeless elegance of her mind. “
These Cannot Be Un Seen, Westward, Look, Landscape Impressions, Turn Toward Home, One Afternoon, Everyone Goes, Winter Garden, Flowers I, Abstract Color, Longing, Still
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