Photo Exhibit

19912492963_ef91f075e8_o

Medina

For a long time now, photography has given me an alternate creative medium, alongside my work as a writer. This past summer, my partner Tim and I traveled through Spain and Morocco collaborating on a new photography project.  Some of the resulting images are now on view at Silver Circle Art Center in Putnam, CT.

If you’ll be in New England, you can see our work in the Art Alley outside of Silver Circle through June 30th. Those of you further afield can also view and purchase prints from our show.  I’ve included a selection of images from the exhibit below. To order prints or see additional images, contact Silver Circle here — or just send me a note.

p.s. You can learn more about the first photography project Tim and I collaborated on here.

20350455668_9da61c89b4_o

Pajaros in Blue

20521276871_e978284bd3_o

Siesta, Chefchaouen

20483597528_efd6e2f4a0_o

Fes, Morocco

andalucian_hills_wm

Andalucian Hills

view_of_sevilla_wm

View of Sevilla

Your Daily Tile, Reprised

Have you guys seen Sebastian Erras’s photo project yet?  I’ve been following along on Instagram for a while now as he photographs beautiful Parisian tiled floors.  After my obsession with tiles in Spain and Morocco this summer, I’ve been totally captivated by Erras’s work.  Long Story Short released a short-short documentary on Erras and his photo project.  Check it out!

 

Alley Walk

IMG_5293

{Alleyway, Baltimore}

Even after eleven years, I still find unexpected scenes my neighborhood in Baltimore: an alleyway, the parallel hemispheres of a line of satellite dishes rimmed with sunlight, the iron weight of a pulley beneath the fire escape.  There’s so much life hiding behind the corners of a place.

Photography

Mt. Vernon Staircase

Mt. Vernon Staircase / Melissa Wyse & Tim Peck

Last year, I started working on a collaborative photography project.  I’ve been taking photos on an old Pentax SLR camera, and my partner, Tim, has been going into the dark room to develop the film.  Tim is a professional musician and composer, and so for both of us this has been a fun creative enterprise, an opportunity to experiment in a third medium while we complete major projects in our primary fields.

So far, my favorite photos from our series are the ones I’ve taken in my neighborhood in Baltimore.  One of the interesting elements of the collaboration has been that Tim never knows what will be on the film I send him, and I don’t know how he’ll choose to interpret the images once he gets them in the darkroom.  It can be a freeing experience — especially as a writer, where so little of my creative work is open to that kind of collaborative serendipity.  I really like the painterly effect we wound up with in Mt. Vernon Staircase.

To the Boathouse

{Lakeside, Sweet Briar}

This spring I’m down at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts for a residency.  I’m already well into a long draft of the book’s second-to-last story. With all the bookwriting, there’s not a lot of mojo left for blog posts.  But there are long walks to the Sweet Briar boathouse with its spindling floors and greening, weather-gnawed clapboards and the music of the lake on those old woodwind pilings.  The perfect antidote to these lengthy days (and late nights) of writing.

Sugimotodera

I arrived at Sugimotodera Temple just after four o’clock, after a long afternoon of being lost.  My map was stretched to fit the dimensions of the page on which it was printed, and so northbound streets slanted west, and the map’s roman alphabet transcriptions of road names meant nothing next to the Japanese street signs.  I was actually aiming for Hokokuji (not, as it turns out from subsequent days’ explorations, too far away), but I came upon Sugimotodera first and stopped, transfixed by that light.

I was lucky the monk let me in; it was late in the day for Japanese temples.  Most close around four or four-thirty.  But I’d been walking such an awfully long time by that point, and I suppose it showed.

By the time I arrived, the temple had emptied of anyone who’d visited earlier in the day, and I was here in this space by myself.  Striking, how quiet and bright it was on the hillside after the busy grey streets.  How the air cleansed.  I stayed until the border of my welcome, drinking in this yellow light, these white banners, which in my foreign eyes turn to pattern and shape.  It is so liberating to be freed of text.

The stairs here are cobbled and worn by footsteps.  They slant and waver, tilt into themselves and tumble together.

The wooden temple glows in the afternoon light, the warm boards coppered and golden.  Under dense roof thatching, it stands on its slender stilts, this steady scaffolding.

Reflective Day in Portland

Reflective Day in Portland

Between stops on this research trip, I planned a few days in Portland, Oregon.  My extended family is from Portland, and I used to visit every few years.  Growing up, I always believed I’d wind up living in Oregon.  Still for me, there is a sense of coming home when I go to the Pacific Northwest.  My body relaxes into belonging.

On this visit, I stayed at my great-aunt and uncle’s house on the hillside.  I love this house — its energy and views and the way it admits daylight.  I wish I reserved the word love for places like this one.

I’ve learned on this research trip how important these few days of reflection can be.  For the most part, my research has been conducted on this trip at a pretty relentless pace.  In between Seattle and Japan, these few days in my great-uncle’s study overlooking the trees gave me an opportunity to gather my thoughts, to process information and impressions.

It felt right to do so in this space that belonged to my great-aunt and uncle, who had their own connections to both Japan and Seattle.  In the sunlit quiet of their living room, I looked through their 1930s jazz records, poured tea from their Japanese teapot.  It felt good to be connected with them across time through these shared spaces.