Thursday, January 26, 2017

Amazing Grace

Just as flowers need water, light and fertile soil to flourish, we too need the right mix of support to grow.  On this Camera Journey, many rays of sunshine combined with gentle rain and miracle grow keep me going.  What began as a simple idea - take a photograph of a flower every single day in honor of my mother - has turned into quite a project!  Finding the flower is the first step, but then getting a good shot is another thing entirely.  Just yesterday it was after 150 frames that I decided I had worked every possible angle of a tulip tree, and that surely within the batch there would be one image worthy of selection for the day.


This gift to my mother has actually become a gift to me, and there are no better words to describe my experience than “amazing grace.”  The American folk tune by that name links to the unique opportunity given to me by the San Francisco based, Del Sol Quartet.  I was asked to use music as inspiration for my photography through a collaboration with their Soundings 4.2 project.  Del Sol will be performing Crossings, a work composed by Ben Johnston, which is comprised of two separate string quartets joined in the middle with obligatory silence.  Johnston describes the music as “a transformation/journey from one leaf of a diptych to the other, from one rim of a canyon to the other, from one quartet to another.”  Keeping with his transformation theme is my budding series of photographs, Flowers for Mom - my artistic response to the treacherous journey from one life to another as I face my mother’s days with Alzheimer’s.  I remain amazed that this opportunity to pair my art with music presented itself at this very time with a most fitting musical composition.


The second quartet of this Crossings piece titled The Ascent, is rooted in the Amazing Grace tune.  It sounds familiar, yet unlike the tune as we know it just as living with Alzheimer’s has remnants of what is known with the added variable of new feelings and new struggles.  Click here  for more details on the collaboration, and click here to check out a video of the talented Del Sol Quartet introducing Ben Johnston’s string quartets.  You can even see them rehearsing a few of those familiar Amazing Grace notes.


This Soundings project allows participants to explore a piece of music that is unfamiliar and challenging.  Del Sol will first perform Crossings without introduction, and then pause to discuss the work with the audience.  At that time I will explain my artistic response to the music and share details about my flowers hanging around the space.  On the second playing, my flower images will be projected on the wall, and because of the conversation and addition of a visual component, the audience will have an opportunity to more deeply experience and understand the composer’s work. 


Join us on February 2nd to experience this Soundings collaboration in person, or via live stream on Facebook as I celebrate the six month mark of Flowers for Mom.  Thank you to the visionary Del Sol Quartet for inviting me to join them as they skillfully play this challenging work of music and allow the audience to reflect on a journey from the tip of one leaf to another.


Keep those calls, texts, e-mails and flower deliveries coming to make sure I have a new flower on which to focus each and every day as my mother smiles and enjoys the gifts of love, care and compassion that surround her.