A Light Touch by Jennifer Lothrigel

Photo of a dusty kitchen, table and chairs
Morning, 2018

 

I grew up in Southern California with a darkroom in my garage. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all photographers. As a child I didn’t spend much time with photography, even though I was around it. I saw how photography was a way for them to document their world and how much joy that brought them, something I realized for myself later in life. I became interested in photography in my early twenties. I am self-taught. Now in my early forties, I’m still learning. I am inspired by the work of Claude Cahun, Francesca Woodman, Sonya Noskowiak and Imogen Cunningham, amongst others.

The art of seeing and paying attention is an endless lesson. One of my favorite things about being a photographer is that the way I see things continually evolve and expand. Looking back, I can see how my ability to capture an image has evolved into a more conscious and meditative act. The act of seeing and listening to a place, to a space, to a subject, to light is meditative for me.

Photo of ostrich egg
Ostrich Egg, 2018

 

For my still lifes, I often work with symbolic imagery: an ostrich egg, a dead bee, mannequin hands, an empty chalice, the stairs in an abandoned church.

The ostrich is an ancient animal, the size of the egg is huge and plentiful. I like this metaphor of producing something from your body that is so abundant and coming from a place that is ancient and wise.

 

 

 

 

I rely a lot on trial and error and following what I feel naturally interested in, to guide me deeper into my creative process. Sometimes the simple act of witnessing the way light falls around or upon a subject can be a transcendent experience for me.

Photo of animal skull in a nest
Home, 2018

 

I made Home, (left) when we were trying to purchase the home we were renting and there were many obstacles. Growing up, I never had the experience of home that I deeply desired so in many ways I needed to re-wire my psyche to the idea that it was possible to have a home; that it was possible to live in a place that supported me and that I didn’t have to move.

My neighbor gave me this nest during that time. For me, bones represent what is indestructible. The doily in the background was my grandmother’s. I liked how the doily held the space for what I was trying to bring into my life. We ended up buying our home.

 

My relationship to beauty, both found in light and dark, has deepened so much through the simple practice of paying attention to the world around me. In my work, I engage the relationship between my own spirit or soul and the spirit or soul of whatever I am photographing. (Much of my other work focuses on women in searching modes and surroundings).

 

Photo of butterfly on carpet
Preserve, 2018

 

I am interested in feeling a connection with my subject matter that invokes memory, healing and mystery. I always travel with props or meaningful objects that I may use in a photo. While on a difficult family vacation, I brought along the butterfly. The butterfly’s iridescent wings placed near the pattern of light was a good visual metaphor to remind me to take care of my spirit. When I can feel my work in my body, then I know I am working on something that is important to me.

Photo of stairwell with green carpeted stairs
Green Stairs, 2018

 

I think it’s interesting how light is connected to emotion. I especially love how light makes empty space come to life, particularly when in contrast to dark space. In Green Stairs in an abandoned church (above), we don’t know where the stairs go. But the light invites us to find out. It invites us into the mystery.

Photo of wall with broken windows and torn curtains
Ungaurded, 2018

 

I often frame my subjects to capture both the dark and the light. I like how the dark space can act as a support for the light, or vice versa. In Unguarded, (above), I felt drawn to how the curtains’ demise, or falling down, allowed in more light.

Photo of dead bee on top of a red rose in a basket
Bee Omen, 2018

 

I choose subject matter to work with that I feel a connection with; that ‘speaks’ to me on a deeper level. I really pay attention to the natural world in serious way. One week, everyday at some point on my journey, I found a dead bee. I decided to work with one to understand its meaning. In photographing the bee in contrast to the vibrant rose, it reminded me how fragile life is and the need to honor vulnerability in myself and others.

Photo of many hands overlaid
Hold, 2018

In Hold (left), I took a mirror out on a beautiful sunny day and placed a pair of mannequin hands on it. I took multiple images to create the illusion of many hands.

The ‘many hands’ were the perfect ‘medicine’ for my spirit. They represented allowing support into my life, which was something I was working on emotionally at the time.

Photo of fake hand touching stacked bowls
Relic, 2018

I also like that someone else might have a very different experience with the image of all of those hands.

For Relic, the stack of porcelain bowls, I made multiple exposures with the key. Again, I framed the scene with natural light coming in through the window. The image speaks to me of the gentle balance of emotions and keeping a connection to that soft part of myself.

I always hope my work is accessible and archetypal in a way that it ‘speaks’ to the viewer in his or her own language; sharing a meaning that is important for their life as well.

Photo of gold chalice
Chalice, 2018

Jennifer Lothrigel
Jennifer Lothrigel is an artist and poet living in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in F-Stop Magazine, Murze Magazine, Arcturus, Deracine, Rag Queen Periodical, NILVX and elsewhere. Click here to see more of Lothrigel’s work.

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