1991. The Oakland Hills in California are on fire. I am having a hellish month aside from the fire. Recovering from a traumatic break-up, I have a car accident and mourn the death of one of my best friends from AIDS related causes.
Then the attack. Three men jump out from behind a fence and grab me. I think I’m dead, or worse – tortured all night and then dead. A whole can of mace, point blank – in my face, my eyes, down my throat and lungs, up my nose, in my mouth and ears. I feel as if I’ve been doused with lighter fluid and set on fire. I hold out long enough to attract unwanted attention and off they go. Wow. Why? A society gone crazy? Relief. I am going to live… with a good dose of PTSD and an autoimmune disorder. My life is irrevocably changed. I channel my process of recovery through photography.
The series By Fire is shot over twenty years after this hot month and explores the human experience of tragedy that has often been described as a trial by fire. Although I do not stage these images, I sense archetypal moments emerging in front of me and intently render them. The focus of the images is shallow with the lens barrel focused on the fire, the sparks. The blurred person moves about the fire like the ghost of my 30 year old self protected by an oversized magic coat – unbecoming, disintegrating, down to the bone and returning whole, wiser and stronger. I find that if we move through the metaphorical fire with awareness, we may find that facing mortality creates expansion and renewed life. The images contemplate the ephemeral nature of life and the perseverance of humanity.
I consider the images I create to be sensory artifacts that provide a conduit for others to directly experience new perceptions. Their archetypal nature allows viewers to project their own memories onto them and perhaps receive insight for themselves.
Shortly after the incident, I meet my soulmate who protects me like the magic coat she wears in these images 20 years later.
By Fire is available for exhibitions, editorial content and is soon to be available as a photographic "chap book."