In my world there are no coincidences. Everything happens in perfect timing. I came across your website through a posting of your work on the internet. I followed the link and found a series of photographs entitled “Asylum”. I was immediately drawn to them and found myself welling up with tears. They were haunting and touched me deeply. There was one in particular that humbled me, saddened me and gave me strength all at the same time. It was called “faith . . .”. I immediately thought of my 3rd Great Grandmother, Ann Eliza Velsor Smith who was the cousin to Walt Whitman’s mother, Lousia Velsor Whitman. She was the mother of to nine children. Her youngest, Elizabeth Parr Smith, was my 2nd Great Grandmother.
In April of 1832, Ann Eliza’s husband died in the cholera epidemic in New York City. She was
left with the nine children ages 6 months through 12. She was committed to the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum where she died 32 years later. I don’t believe she was insane but rather suffering from a great loss and deep grief. Her children were given to relatives and close friends but she never again saw the outside world.
I was incredibly saddened when this story was passed to me. When I saw your photograph, “faith . . .”, I had a moment of knowing that faith must have carried her through her grief and dark days inside the walls of the asylum. I imagined her room as it was in your photograph. The praying hands, the peeling paint, the aloneness, the isolation and solitude. I believe that Ann Eliza spoke to me through your powerful photograph. I believe she let me know that her faith carried her. I believe she let me know she was ok. I believe that her message came to me through your work to help me with my loss and grief.
I am blessed and honored to have encountered your work. I would like to have “faith . . .” to hang in my home as a tribute to Ann Eliza and as a reminder that we can get through anything that may come our way if we have faith.
“I believe that much unseen is also here.”
“In Venice in the Middle Ages there was once a profession for a man called a codega–a fellow you hired to walk in front of you at night with a lit lantern, showing you the way, scaring off thieves and demons, bringing you confidence and protection through the dark streets. ”
Every small town has its cafe where locals gather to sip coffee and take up parts of the paper or talk of the weather. The waitress writes down their orders, not needing to ask what they want. The The Looking Glass Cafe is such a place. Formally Sammie’s Restaurant, My daughter Samantha and I used to ride our bikes there for breakfast where she literally thought the place was just for her. It kind of was . . .
I have enjoyed exhibiting my photography at The Looking Glass Cafe over the years and occasionally one or two will sell, covering my tab for awhile.
A couple of days ago I returned from Ireland to receive a phone call from the cafe saying that there was a man who wished to purchase ALL of my photographs on the spot. His wife had recently died from ovarian cancer and she was a local artist from Princeton, NJ.This man with the power of example, loved paying it forward and supporting local artists in his travels.
I said yes.
The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. They help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, the arts are salve for the ache.
This holiday season, please genuinely support your local artists.
“Irish improves a poet.”