artist statement

Life has always been about place for me - place as a way to understand who we are and how we relate to the world. Every place has its own magic: the cool thin air of Peru, the fog rolling in off Puget Sound, the soft caress of a Kauai sunrise. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the potential of photographs to capture that magic. Not just the magic of the moment but the underlying magic that informs the moment.

While living in Washington DC in the early days of my library career I was also a working photographer. I loved the excitement of making images out of light, the satisfaction of selling my work. Later when I became Director of Libraries for the cities of Atlanta and Cleveland I created libraries - places that have another kind of magic. I continued to shoot but became more a collector than a creator of photography.

Several years ago I rediscovered my passion for creating photographic art. I upgraded my equipment, learned how to shoot, process and print digitally, and took photography workshops with Nevada Weir, Jay Maisel, Mac Holbert, Art Wolfe, and others who pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Today I am based in Seattle and am still exploring the mystery of place. I continue to believe that to a great extent who you are depends on where you are. The images on this web site are of places, people in places, and abstractions of places. Abstractions now find their way into several of the portfolios as I stuggle to express emotions about a place. In the Fall Colors portfolio I abandoned representation altogether in favor of exploring color itself, leaving only a suggestion of form.

I am also experimenting with invented places. Amsterdam Fantasy won honorable mention in the international Px3, Prix de la Photographie Paris competition that received entries from 85 countries. In this series I combine images of a place with symbols of the place. For Amsterdam I combined an image of houses on a canal with an image of miniature delft-blue Dutch houses given away as liquor bottles by KLM Airlines. The images are expressed in a range of colors that are meant to be viewed together.

The second recognition I received recently was a commendation by the Sony World Photography Organisation (British spelling). Out of 51,878 submissions the top 50 are recognized in each category. My photograph of Cremations Along the Ganges in the India portfolio received this honor.

Marilyn Gell Mason