As a result of the recent rearrangement of my studio, I had to unpack, assess and find improved storage space for all the tools of my trades, from books and papers connected to my writing life, to supplies for my sideline as a seasonal creator of alpaca fiber accessories, to the machines and implements that assist me in the production of printed versions of my photographs. I’m happy to say that everything now has its proper place, no one’s feelings have been hurt by being overlooked or undervalued, and in fact, in the midst of reorganizing, two items in particular found themselves in conversation, and an irresistible subject.
The process of finding room for three distinct but related activities got me thinking about the connections and differences between the things I do to express myself. I’ve written here before about how working with fiber gives me a chance to explore color relationships that I don’t seem to require or desire in my work with photography, and how, even though I often seem to prefer capturing images wordlessly, or playing with words strictly linguistically, I sometimes can’t resist attaching phrases to my photos, or using photos to illustrate my text. My disciplines remind me of siblings who sometimes can’t get enough of each other, and other times can’t wait to get away from each other, and only an outside observer can recognize that they are far more alike than different, and whatever their differences, bound together for life.
I’d like to think I’ve created enough of a signature style as an artist that the themes appearing in my writing are also evident in my photography. I believe that the desire and too often failure to reach out and connect is one of my greatest personal concerns and drives, and shows up as a recurrent theme in all my work. Hands are the ultimate symbol of reaching out to connect. I use my hands in all that I do – they hold the pen, they work the crochet needle, they cradle the camera. They become restless when left idle. They constantly seek out other hands, shoulders, cheeks, in their uninhibited impulse to connect with other human beings when words or eye contact just aren’t the right means for conveying the message. I’m living in a new city, but I’ve lived in other cities for years and still had to confess the same truth – that some of my closest connections are still with people who are not within reach, whose hands I can’t clasp, whom I can only touch with words and images.
But my connections with these distant people (and I think you know who you are) have been so strong and tangible, we may as well be clasping hands, or patting each other on the back every time we visit each others’ blogs. It may seem easy to send positive thoughts across cyberspace to someone whose life you aren’t obliged to touch in person. Perhaps there will always be a percentage of users of social media who misuse multiple immediate unlimited connecting as a way to scatter and cloud their intimacies. I am not within that percentage, and neither is any one of you reading this right now. As far as I’m concerned, my reach is singular and clear, and has yet to go unreturned by worthy kindred souls. For which I thank you.