A Kalinga Journey Through Time

I am very excited to share my project A Kalinga Journey Through Time with you.

In 1986 I was a freelance photojournalist living in the northern Philippines. An invitation by an indigenous Filipina from the Kalinga tribe to visit her village, nestled deep within the hand-carved rice terraces of the Cordillera Mountains, brought me into an isolated landscape that appeared to be untouched by modern times. Fascinated by the images of an ancient people beginning the process of a contemporary metamorphosis, I returned many times over 25 years to visit my friends, and to photograph their rapidly changing historic landscape.

I’m sharing this project with you because I’m hoping you might be interested in supporting the completion of this historic work. I’m aiming to raise $8,900 by mid-February 2013.

With support from this funding I would return to the Philippines for six weeks in March 2013. I’d bring with me earlier photographs that would be used as points of departure to trigger memories among the family members, photograph portraits and conduct video interviews and, with the guidance of the local population, would document the rapidly perishing vernacular architecture as I also record the newer buildings. After returning home, I would apply your support to cataloging the documentation, printing photographs, digitizing older film and editing my video recording. I would also be arranging for future lectures, exhibitions and a book project, A Kalinga Journey Through Time, that would aim to preserve the material I have collected. Photographing the changes that have impacted this community will also reveal much about how a tribal society evolves into the 21st century.

If you can support this project with a donation, in any capacity, together we can make this idea a reality! Sharing the project with others and sending me your thoughts are also very valuable ways to show your support.

Want to learn more? Click here:

About USA Projects:
Founded by the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations, United States Artists has supported the work of individual artists since 2005. Donating through USA’s micro-philanthropy initiative, USA Projects, supports the work of accomplished artists all across America and is tax deductible.

The Sexuality Spectrum

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I am very proud to have two of my fine art photography projects included in the groundbreaking exhibition The Sexuality Spectrum at the Hebrew Union College –  JIR Museum in New York City.

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm ∙ Program at 6:30 pm
RSVP & Photo ID Required: hucjirmuseum@huc.edu or 212-824-2298

FAUST’S STUDY                                 
1997, Edition 3/9
Archival Pigment Print
13.3 inches x 16 inches
Framed  24.5  x 26.5 inches

Enter into Faust’s Study, a trompe l’oeil painted room, and be confronted by a fearless man who is empowered and transformed by the duality of his sexuality. His starkly lit, painted face and figure emerging from the shadows are a tantalizing contrast to the painted Adam and Eve on the rear wall. Faust’s Study directs the viewer’s attention to the relationship between the interior details and the subject, suggesting a narrative in which the gender performance artist, Frédéric Koenig, who can so naturally appear both handsome and beautiful, dares the viewer to cross over boundaries of imagination and desire. Faust’s Study, like much of my gender imagery, blurs the traditional definitions of maleness and femaleness.

2012, 36 inches x 26 inches,
Archival Pigment Print spot mounted on black plexiglass

ABOMINATION: WRESTLING WITH LEVITICUS 18:22 is my first artistic collaboration with Susan Kaplow.  Our installation explores the damage done by this biblical passage (“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination”) and its homophobic legacy.  The first to wrestle with the meaning of this verse were the early Rabbis and so the chosen text here is the Talmud page where their commentary is recorded.

Because this abhorrence of her lesbian sexuality made Susan feel “dead,” she had the Talmud text printed on fabric like that used in the traditional Jewish burial ritual and then hand-sewed it into shrouds (tachrichim).  Susan asked me if I would photograph her in these shrouds and, together, we began the process of exploring the physical and emotional dynamics of being enclosed in the garments.  We came to realize that the images represented our own commentary on the text, reflecting the impact on those who suffer this curse.  Through the constitutive role of photography, we transformed and transcended the pain, ultimately retiring the shrouds to a geniza, in which sacred texts and objects which have outlived their ritual use are placed.

The Sexuality Spectrum is a groundbreaking exploration of diverse sexual orientations through the creativity of fifty international contemporary artists. The exhibition explores a broad range of subjects, including the evolving social and religious attitudes toward sexuality; issues of alienation, marginalization, and inclusion; the impact on the family, child-rearing, and life stages; violence and persecution; AIDS/HIV; and the influence of the LGBTQI community on the Jewish and larger world. This exhibition exemplifies the spirit of the College-Institute’s and the Reform Movement’s commitment to free and open inquiry, inclusivity and outreach, and advocacy on behalf of human rights and the eradication of sexual discrimination.

September 6, 2012 – June 28, 2013
Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion Museum
One West Fourth Street (between Broadway and Mercer Street)
New York, NY 10012-1186
Curator: Laura Kruger

TREASURED: Honoring Precious and Vanishing Worlds

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TREASURED: HONORING PRECIOUS AND VANISHING WORLDS is an exhibition at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, MD that features three prints from my fine art portfolios: Bet Hayyim (House of the Living) and Endangered Historic Houses.
The art exhibit opens on June 15 and continues to August 26 2012.

Title: Hands of the Kohan.  Medzhybizh, Ukraine, 2008, Edition: 3/10
12 x 18 inches, Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

Title: Kohans, Levites and the Star of David.  Chernivtsi, Ukraine, 2008, Edition:3/10
12 x 18 inches,  Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

In 2008 I crisscrossed the heartland of the Ukraine  to photograph historic Jewish cemeteries and hand-carved tombstones in cities, towns and shtetls. Every site had a story to tell and each stone was an artistic treasure filled with iconographic beauty and mystery. The headstones of the Kohanim, descendants of the Biblical priests, had hands joined in a gesture of blessing. The pitcher pouring water represented the tribe of Levites, the assistants to the priests. Some epitaphs were intricately carved, the stones decorated in an elaborate Jewish script covering the entire surface; others held only the most minimal outline of the Star of David. Other friezes depicted symbols of lineage and gender. These gravestones, some dating from the 1400’s, depict a visual history of the once vast community of Eastern European Jews, and serve as reminders of the people who lived in this place and died.

Title: Shattered Spaces. 2012
Edition: 3/10
12 x 18 inches, Fine Art Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks

Less than two years ago the Shoemaker-Houck Farm was in excellent condition, one of the premier structures located within the New Jersey Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area that is owned by the National Park Service. The front portion of the house was built in 1822 while the rear portion was built in the eighteenth century. This National Register Site has no protection and has now become vandalized. The back door is wide open and window glass is missing, sadly revealing the ruins of neglect. These scarred elements are key to understanding the rural development of northwestern New Jersey and the significant role that area played in American history.

I am drawn to the timeless nature of historic architecture because it is a repository of collective memories – a record of our heritage, the builders and the people who once inhabited these spaces. There is an urgency about what I photograph because each derelict site is a reminder of our inadequacy as cultural stewards. I look to the architectural details, to the deeply etched memories in the stones, the walls and the structures as a window to remembering our past.

Brown Memorial Baptist Church

I was invited to attend the New York Landmarks Conservancy “Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards,” on April 25th 2012 by my colleagues at Li-Saltzman Architects, PC who were receiving a “Lucy” for their restoration work of the Gothic Revival sanctuary, the Brown Memorial Baptist Church. The Awards, nicknamed the “Preservation Oscars,” are the Conservancy’s highest honors for outstanding preservation of historic structures. I was proud to have taken the photographs that documented their project and to know that those images helped Li-Saltzman receive the recognition they deserved.

It was Roz Li and Judith Saltzman who had encouraged me twenty years ago to shoot historic preservation assignments. Roz had praised my commitment to the documentary series I had produced about the Philippines, and hoped I would bring a similar passion to historic work.  One of my first architectural assignments for her company was documenting the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City. I photographed the “before and after” restoration, floor by floor, over several years, until the project was completed.

The Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards ceremony served as a joyful reminder of why the company of historic preservationists is such an honor, and why I view the profession as the “human rights” work of the architectural world.  “The time and care that went into completing these projects demonstrate New Yorkers’ commitment to preserving the entire range of the City’s historic architecture,” said Peg Breen, president of the Conservancy to the audience. When John Belle, FAIA, a founding partner of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, LLP, received the Preservation Leadership Award for his four decades of acclaimed work (including the South Street Seaport, Grand Central Terminal and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum), he humbly described how working in preservation is a “team effort.” Roz Li told me that historic preservation work is “a labor of love,” because projects like the Brown Memorial Baptist Church can take a decade to complete due to the complexity of financing. And when Rev. Clinton M. Miller and Mrs. Aquilla Middleton from the Church received their “Lucy’” award the Reverend spoke about the importance of the restoration of the Church to the community it served.

Indeed, photographing this assignment I was inspired by the work of my colleagues and by the spirit of the congregation. I sought to creatively balance the light from the sconces, chandeliers and LED bulbs so that their combined glow could reveal the divine beauty of this historic sanctuary as well as find the perfect composition to record the architectural details.

Congratulations to Roz Li and  Zach Rice of Li-Saltzman Architects, and all the other “Lucy” Award Preservation winners including my friend, Lew Gleason, of Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, for his restoration work on the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.

Endangered Historic Houses – Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey

My friend, Robert Williams, the Verona NJ town historian, took me on a tour of these National Park Service houses, located within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Built between the 18th and 19th century, many of these sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were in live-in condition a couple of years ago when the Park took ownership. We saw doors wide open or missing, window glass smashed and some of these historically important houses sadly vandalized and trashed.

“The Shoemaker-Houck Farm was one of the premier structures in the Park,” Bob told me. “The front portion of the house was built in 1822 while the rear portion was built in the eighteenth century. Look what has happened to this house in only one year’s time!” We saw that the back door was wide open. “This is a National Register Building that was in excellent condition. How could this have happened?” Bob asked sadly.

Bob explains the history of each house we visit and recounts how the Smith-Lennington House had been in the same family since it was built. “The Smiths built the initial house in 1820 and then remodeled and added to it in 1902. When the Park Service took title of this a few years ago, it was completely intact and in live-in condition. Shortly after their stewardship began, someone took the columns off the porch and it was down-hill from there.” Read More

‘MOMENTUM: Contemporary Women’s Art’

I just received my beautifully illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition, ‘MOMENTUM: Contemporary Women’s Art,’ on view at the Los Angeles Art Association, February 17- March 2 2012. Three of my photographs are in MOMENTUM, curated by Rita Gonzalez, Associate Curator at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

Multiple generations of women’s art are represented and within the selection are myriad formations of feminist thought and aesthetics,” writes Rita Gonzalez in her introduction to the catalogue. “Many of the artists engage with legacies of activism that go back to civil rights movements of the 20th century while clearly engaging with the present day.”

“Momentum is defined as the impetus or driving force gained by a course of events,” explains Janice Nesser Chu, WCA President in the catalogue. The exhibition not only investigates the diverse voices of women artists, and looks at the depth and breadth of work being created but also is a testament to the drive that got them to this point, to the things that propelled them and their work forward… their experiences, their history.” I included art work that was created between 1985 – 2010 and the descriptions are quoted on pages 113,114,115 and accompanied by the following images:

“Enter into Faust’s Study, a trompe l’oeil painted room, and be confronted by a fearless man who is empowered and transformed by the duality of his sexuality. His starkly lit, painted face and figure emerging from the shadows are a provocative contrast to the painted Adam and Eve on the rear wall. Faust’s Study directs the viewer’s attention to the relationship between the interior details and the narrative, as the gender performance artist, Frédéric Koenig, unselfconsciously dares the viewer to cross over boundaries of imagination and desire.”

Faust’s Study, 1997, Edition of 9, Archival Pigment Print.  13.3 inches x 16 inches.
Framed  24.5  x 26.5 inches  – $1300.00

“This  image is part of an ongoing series of portraits that document my fifteen-year collaboration with Frédéric Koenig, who can so naturally appear both handsome and beautiful, both masculine and feminine. Wearing nothing more than spike heels, he provocatively poses in an abandoned brewery, a gritty, industrial environment that reinforces a traditional male landscape. While his upper body exudes a masculine power, his raw and curvaceous physicality and his archetypal pin-up girl shoes challenge the viewer to explore how we perceive masculinity, sexuality and gender identity.”

Beyond XY: Inside the Abandoned Falstaff Brewery. No.2,  2010, Edition of 15, Archival Pigment Print.  11.5 inches x 17.5 inches, Framed  19 inches  x 25 inches – $1300.00

“I’ve explored feminist, LGBTQ and social justice issues over four decades by producing images that depict gender ambiguity and transformation. In the seventies, my studio in downtown New York City was a haven for my female friends to pose dressed up and naked, in leather outfits and swathed in boas, with hand-painted mustaches and masks, amidst barbed wire and tulle. I’ve photographed women’s erotic pleasure, role-playing and butch/femme identity. Objects of Special Devotion depicts a muscular, androgynous bodybuilder who defies conventional female beauty and challenges the sexual, cultural and erotic representation of women.”

Objects of Special Devotion, 1985, Edition of 9, Archival Pigment Print. 13.3 inches x 16 inches. Framed 24.5 x 26.5 inches -$1300.00

Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Brooklyn New York

This post congratulates Roz Li, Zach Rice and Li/Saltzman Architects, PC for their beautiful restoration work of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn NY.

Li/Saltzman has been working with this church since 2001. They started with the restoration of the exterior – restoring the brick, replacing the roof, recreating the missing stone turrets and the structural stabilization of the roof trusses. Once the exterior envelope was stable and watertight, the restoration of the sanctuary interior began.

“Saturday, February 4, 2012, was the Re-Dedication Ceremony of Li/Saltzman Architects’ latest project completion, the interior restoration of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, a landmark church built in 1860,” Preservation Architect, Roz Li, proudly told me. “It was a memorable moment to witness the first religious service attended by the African-American congregation after several years of restoration work. The ceremony was enlivened by songs from the church’s great choir. The church was really vibrating! It was so joyful.”

Roz explained more about the history of the project, “Before the restoration the plaster walls and ceilings were cracked, and we had to net the heavy plaster ornamental medallions for fear of them falling. There were no chandeliers, and the lighting that existed was full of glare.

We did some probes and found out that beneath the paint, the original finish was tinted plaster made to look like stone with scored joints, and each simulated stone panel was a slightly different shade than the next, just as natural stone would have been.

So, with O’Donoghue Contracting Co, General Contractor, and Ernest Neuman Co, Decorative Painting Contractor, we recreated that historic finish. We designed new chandeliers, we installed new LED lights around the column capitals. We restored the walnut pews. As you will see, the results are dramatic. With the completion of the exterior and interior restoration, Brown Memorial Baptist Church celebrates its historic past as it faces the future.”

‘The Song of the Land’

Opening January 20 2012 – May 31 2012
Reception –  February 23 2012  5-7pm
Hebrew Union College, Institute of Religion, John H. Skirball Campus
3077 University Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca 90007-3796

Included in the ‘The Song of the Land’  Exhibition is a framed print from my
Bet Hayyim – House of Life’ series:

Title: Hands of the Kohan, Medzhybizh, Ukraine 2008
Medium: Fine Art Digital Inkjet Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks
Size:  10 inches x 15 inches
Framed: $700.00 – 16 inches x 20 inches
Edition 4/10

I viewed the thousands of stones in the Jewish cemeteries throughout the Ukraine as artistic treasures of iconographic beauty and mystery. The headstones of the Kohanim, descendants of the Biblical priests, had hands joined in a gesture of blessing. The carved gravestones depict a visual history of the once vast community of Eastern European Jews, and serve as reminders of the people who lived in this place and died.

As a historic preservation photographer, I document sites being bulldozed or restored. As a fine art photographer, I choose my destinations to record the poetics of a place. There is an urgency about what I photograph because each is a painful reminder of our inadequacy as cultural stewards. I am drawn to the timeless nature of historic architecture because it is a repository of collective memories. From its ever-evolving essence one can understand the sites’ creative and passionate link to humanity.

‘The Built Environment’

Opening Dec 27th 2011 – January 21 2011
Reception –  Jan 8th 2012
Dark Room Gallery
12 Main Street, Essex Junction, VT 05452
Included in the ‘The Built Environment’ Exhibition is my print from the
Essex County Penitentiary series:

Title: Essex County Penitentiary, New Wing Corridor. North Caldwell, New Jersey.
Medium: Fine Art Digital Inkjet Paper with Archival Pigmented Inks
Size:  10 inches x 15 inches
Framed: $700.00 – 16 inches x 20 inches

As both a historic-preservation and fine-art photographer, I am drawn to the timeless nature of a historic site; it is a repository of collective memories like those etched and concealed within the interior walls of this rusting prison ruin.

It was a cold December day in 2007 when I first walked through the Essex County Penitentiary. My assignment was to photograph the 32-acre jail complex as part of a required HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) documentation before the institutional structures and outbuildings, built between 1872 and 1929, could be demolished to make way for luxury condominiums. Photographing the “New Wing Corridor” was not part of the job, but the gritty prison hallway pulled me into an evocative still life of decaying iron bars and unhinged doors that allowed the silent voices of those once incarcerated to escape.

‘Becoming Who We Are’ Artist Talk

TRIX ROSEN, Project Director and INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Workshop Participants
ARTIST TALK, Friday December 2, 2011
6 pm – 9 PM, Gallery 32

With a Special Performance by LADY JOI-ELLE
Hudson Pride Connections Center
32 Jones St., Jersey City, NJ 07306

Please join me, and the participants of the INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Digital Storytelling Workshop for an Artist Talk and Panel Discussion about our photographs currently on view in BECOMING WHO WE ARE,” a photo/video group exhibition curated by Ricardo Francis at Gallery 32, in Jersey City NJ.

The show features the work of Jasmin Brown, V. Michael Lazar, Natasha Phoenix Russell, Joi-Elle White, and Esteets Wright, students of the INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Workshop along with guest international artists, Nadine Hutton (South Africa), and Fréd Koenig (France).

I will also present a short, historic retrospective of images that represent my GLBTQ social advocacy photography work from the ‘70’s and images depicting gender ambiguity and transformation. This visual memoir includes studio portraits of my female friends exploring erotic pleasure, role-playing and butch/femme identity.

Included will be pictures from recent photography exhibitions documenting my artistic collaboration with gender performance artist and videographer, Frédéric Koenig.

The INSIGHT OUT! PRIDE Digital Storytelling Workshop recently completed an eight-week pilot program at Hudson Pride Connections Center. The workshop is tailored to LGBTQ participants, and gives a visual voice to participants affected by growing up in environments of uncertainty, discrimination, fear and violence, and guides them to explore their creative vision. Each artist poignantly depicts images that mirror their personal views about masculinity, femininity and their LGBTQ identity. As they learn to document their own lives through photography, they grow in confidence and leadership skills, empower themselves and heal.

The workshops at the The Hudson Pride Connections Center were developed and adapted from my experiences as senior trainer, editor and advisor to the international InSIGHT Out! Photography and Creative Exchange Project, based in Bangkok, Thailand.

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