Experiments in Seeing

I have lived through fifty-seven northern winters. Each year when the sun dips lower and lower along the horizon, and the light slants just so in the birch trees, I feel a longing for color, something to ballast me against the deep days of gray and white and black of winter. I walk the woods looking for the flicker of red feathers when the cardinals are near. I wander the lakeshores at sunset hoping for that pearl-pink just before sunset or a deep blue, the color of longing, just after the stars have shown.

When I can’t find the color or the light, I seek to make my own. For years I have haunted the Goodwill stores and antique shops looking for glassware: ornate, forgotten candy-dishes or spiral-ridged glass pitchers that once clinked with ice cubes and lemonade on a front porch somewhere. I buy handfuls, trunk loads, and bring them home to my photographic studio. There I set them up against a black backdrop, hold them in place with a vice, and bring them to life again with colored fabric lit by studio lights. It is as if the light of summer has been waiting for just this moment and jumps out in the glass. Think of it as a chip of summer in the winter darkness, a celebration of light, and a reminder that winter cannot, even this far north, last forever.

It is this color, and the feeling of hope that it brings that spring will indeed come again, that I hope to capture in the photography I call “experiments in seeing.”