My Mother’s Daughter (God is Alive, Magic is Afoot) is a series of figurative color photographs set in a natural environment. Using myself as a model, each image is a portion of a larger story being told about a woman within this natural landscape.
This series began gestating in 2019 as I was approaching midlife. At that time, I started to write and reflect on what it meant to be a woman at this age. I had a deep desire to express certain struggles and unmet expectations in my life and relationships. This work celebrates womanhood, feminine energy, beauty and the ability to survive life’s challenges against great odds. My mother passed away in 2008 at the age of 55. As I approach the same age as my mother at the time of her of death, I realize that reaching midlife is a crown of victory. I am still vital, like other women my age, and have much life yet to live and wisdom to offer others.
I choose to have this female character be represented primarily as a nude figure to illustrate her vulnerability and expose my mid-life body for what it is today, imperfections and all. In this nakedness there exists an openness and willingness to be unguarded with no need to hide behind outward projections that come from costume or clothing.
All of the work in this series is photographed on land that I inherited from my mother, so the land is as important as the figure. The land and the woman are intertwined. This work pays homage to the strong female heritage on the maternal side of my family; honoring my mother, who was a hunter, her mother, who was an ordained minister, and my great-grandmother who was an Italian immigrant to the U.S. in the early 20th century. These women were fierce, independent and unconventional for their time. On a grander scale, this work honors Mother Earth and the sacredness of the land and the natural environment.
My inspiration comes in part from a poem by Leonard Cohen, “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot.” This poem was powerfully set to music and sung by Buffy St. Marie on her 1969 album Illuminations and I was fortunate to discover it for the first time just prior to the pandemic. It became a mantra for me. It is my belief that there is a spiritual connection between humankind and the natural world, if we will calm ourselves and pay attention to it. In the solitude of nature I can sense and experience a divine presence that beckons to be known. It speaks to me. As a woman, my response is to be still and surrender myself to its majesty, acknowledging its presence and recognizing its rightful place in this world. By giving birth to this series of photographs, I am offering thanks to this divine power for the magic it has given me in my life.