'Misthaven' is an allegory for my journey as an artist, a journey that changed my life. It took me away from the business world and closer to knowing the deeper, real me. The convenience of the familiar and the predictable replaced by uncertainty and childlike wonder. This is a story of self-discovery and transformation, combining adult sensitivities and experience with the magic dust of childhood fairy tales.
The title, Misthaven, is a nod to The Enchanted Forest, one of many magical books that inspired me to change my role from reader to visual writer. Far from being forgotten, these stories stayed with me long after childhood became a distant memory. It is with hindsight that I realize how much these fairy tales balanced and added color to an otherwise strict and regimented youth. Besides being (still) among my favorite reads, the spirit of these stories strongly informs both the form and the mood of my art.
Misthaven made me realize how much I have changed. Rather than being a passive observer in worlds created by others, I dare write my own story with lenses and light. There is still magic, but this time, I am the magician.
12"x 12" archival inkjet print edition of 15
Between Here and Then
I came across it when tidying up the bookshelves, an album put together a long time ago for my beloved grandma. When she passed away, it ended up back with me. Looking at her old photographs, brought back a flood of love and longing. What began as a pure desire to have her back into my life, turned into a process of taking an honest look at myself through her eyes. “Between here and then” is the visual representation of this process.
This portfolio examines the origins of personal identity as it relates to our hereditary, cultural and psychological backgrounds. An intimate exploration of the extent our ancestors, upbringing and own decisions shape us into the individuals we are.
Vintage family photographs combined with digital images create new stories echoing memories, revelations and hopes. Seen together, these images become a layered puzzle, one in which we are both the pieces and the puzzle solver.
12" x 12" archival inkjet print edition of 15
16" X 16" archival inkjet prints edition of 10
Spirit and Dust
How do you make sense of death? One minute they are here, living, talking and breathing, the next moment they are not. “Death,” said Emily Dickinson “is a dialogue between the spirit and the dust.” This series, created in the wake of my mother in law death, is an attempt raise above the dust and listen to the spirit. Create a bigger reality, where life and death are not entirely black and white.
Through the lens, I look for symbols of the eternal and the impermanent: light forms, a peeling piece of bark, the fluttering wing of a butterfly. Using a process that straddles the digital and analog worlds, fragments of reality captured on black and white film are composited into new digital images. Under the dim lights of the darkroom, virtual pixels morph into unique Lith prints. Dark, grainy browns and delicate cream shades, blur the boundaries between black and white.
Death is a dialogue between the spirit and the dust.
“Dissolve,” says Death. The Spirit, “Sir, I have another trust.”
Death doubts it, argues from the ground. The Spirit turns away,
Just laying off, for evidence, an overcoat of clay.
“We see what we know until we know who we are, then we see what we feel.”
— Ernst Haas
The idea of visualizing the invisible is something I’ve been continuously exploring in my practice as an artist. I am drawn to what lies beyond the physical appearance of things, trying to capture "what else is there" as Minor White so beautifully put it. I find the natural world endlessly inspiring and a rich source of metaphors through which I can tell my story.
Making the unseen seen has prompted experimentation with multiple photographic techniques: analog, digital, camera-less and combinations of all the above. I confess that beyond looking for the best way to visually express ideas, I simply love experimenting with the process of photography itself.
Like dreams, photography has a way of making thoughts and feelings surface, giving them visual shape. The light that helps create the image on paper also illuminates previously hidden parts of self.
Amy Kanka Valadarsky was born in 1964 in Romania where she spent her first eight years before her family moved to Israel, the place she calls home. After graduating as a software engineer, she started what was to become a 25 years long career in the telecommunication industry, traveling around the globe designing and implementing software solutions. In 2014, after leaving the hi-tech world, Amy returned to her creative roots and opened a new chapter of her life as a fine art photographer.
Amy’s work was selected as a Critical Mass 2017 Top 50, as well as featured in SHOTS, Rfotofolio, The Hand, Black&White Magazine, Lenscratch and exhibited in a variety of galleries and photo festivals such as PhotoLa 2016, Carmel Center for photographic Art, and the Griffin Museum at Lafayette City Center (Boston).
She lives with her husband, the dog and two cats in Even Yehuda, Israel.
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