“The snow-crystals …come to us not only to reveal the wondrous beauty of the minute in Nature, but to teach us that all earthly beauty is transient and must soon fade away. But the beauty of the snow is evanescent, like the beauties of the autumn, as of the evening sky, it fades but to come again.”
Wilson A. Bentley
On December 18, 2020, Vermont received 20 inches of snow. One of my favorite things to do is to snowshoe through the woods. In 2014, I created Walk To The Water. This walk through the Italian countryside included placing snowflakes, made from magazine pages, in the landscapes. On my snowshoe adventures in 2020, I placed paper snowflakes made from magazine pages in the landscape. After one of these walks, on returning home, I cleared a place on the kitchen table for a cup of tea and a snack. The table was full of photographs. As I freed up some room on the table, one of the paper snowflakes landed on top of one of the photographs. This chance occurrence led to a series of photographs.
These images were not created in Photoshop. They are photographs of actual snowflakes made from paper illustrations; placed on top of photographs or placed in the landscape and photographed by me.
“George Sand, dreaming beside a path of yellow sand, saw life flowing by, “What is more beautiful than a road?” she wrote. “It is the symbol and the image of the active, varied life.” Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. Thoreau said that he had the map of his fields engraved in his soul.”
– From The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard
These photo collages are my way of creating images of the natural and man-made world engraved on my soul.
photograph title: Twisted
I started making cyanotypes after seeing the exhibiton: Blue Prints: The Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins and the companion exhibition Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works at the NY Public Library in 2019. “Anna Atkins is an exception during the 19th century. She’s a female photographer, and one who’s working shortly after the medium had been invented. Because she is a pioneering woman, she is a model for many contemporary female artists. Atkins is also influential to contemporary eyes because her imagery is simple and beautiful.” Elizabeth Cronin, Assistant Curator of Photography, NYPL.
Photographs © Phyllis Odessey
“Look at the bark of a redwood, and you see moss. If you peer beneath the bits and pieces of the moss, you’ll see toads, small insects, a whole host of life that prospers in that miniature environment. A lumberman will look at a forest and see so many board feet of lumber. I see a living city”.
“I said, I don’t want to paint things like Picasso’s women and Matisse odalisques lying on couches with pillows. I don’t want to paint something I have never seen before. I don’t want to make what I’m looking at. I want the fragments”.
When you live in a northern climate, it’s possible for it to snow in May. Flowers in bloom are a precious thing. As a photographer and gardener, I appreciate the impermanence and transience of a flowering plant.
“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Theodore Roethke
“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.”