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Reverence is a feeling of deep respect, with a tinge of awe. Growing up, I was marinated in reverence. Now it is a primary theme of my image making and the overall focus of this exhibit.
I was born in Thailand of missionary parents, and had the majority of my education through college in Christian institutions. I didn’t embrace Christian doctrine, but the reverence moved me deeply. My youth was also an almost continuous series of empathy exercises. I spoke Thai before English, and attended 15 schools in five countries before reaching college.
Returning to India sixty years after my first visits as a child, I found scenes of deep Hindu reverence, despite and within the hubbub generated by the 1.3 billion people who live there. The scenes in this exhibit emphasize Hindu homage for the Ganges River and veneration of the Hindu deity Krishna.
The Ganges River (reverently, Mother Ganga) is holy water for Hindus. Sadhus (ascetic holy men) perform sacred rituals on its banks, and bathe in its blessed waters. Millions of devotees experience Mother Ganga’s spiritual cleansing on a daily basis. Millions more make special pilgrimages to do so.
Holi is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates Krishna. The festival is intensely reverent for many participants. At the same time, Holi is a riot of celebratory fun, as devotees throw and rub multi-toned powders and liquids on themselves and one another.
The reverence in these scenes from India is matched by the printing process I’ve chosen for them: the platinotype, a nineteenth century method in which the image is formed by fine platinum metal particles embedded in the paper. I hope you’ll find beauty and empathy with the people in these scenes and treasure our shared humanity.
The India portion of this gallery consists of photographs of the handmade platinum prints in the exhibit. Note the de-bossed image region, the embossed printer's mark and the deckled lower edge of each sheet.
Another theme of this exhibit is reverence for our fragile natural world, with a focus on the earth’s polar regions, both north and south. These areas are vast expanses of awe-inspiring beauty, with towering snow-clad mountains and glaciers, as well as intricate ice sculptures and exquisite, hardy wildlife. The polar images in this exhibit come from two locations: the Antarctic Peninsula in the south and Svalbard in the north. The peninsula is the northernmost and most accessible part of the continent of Antarctica. The Svalbard archipelago is part of Norway, but located about 400 miles north of the Norwegian mainland.
My personal experience in the polar regions (that is, areas with latitude 60° and beyond) is limited thus far, but my awe of their land-, snow- and icescapes is already deep, my respect for the wild creatures that live there already strong. However, the threats to these regions from accelerating climate change are grave. Some of those threats, such as rising temperatures, have worldwide consequences, including the potentially existential implications of sea level rise for major portions of the earth’s population.
With these polar naturescapes, I hope to motivate you to revere, and support the conservation of, these places and their inhabitants. Given the unique ways in which these regions relate to climate change, their conservation depends on global measures, can yield worldwide benefits, and deserves our commitment.