The Long Way Home


Unblurred: Sarah Wojdylak
Untitled by Sarah Wojdylak

Untitled by Sarah Wojdylak

For April’s First Friday event on Penn, and the 5th annual GA/GI Festival: Studio 5013 features mixed media by Sarah Wojdylak. swojdylak.com



Five Years
shadows and light

shadows and light

March marks five years of blogging on The Long Way Home! I started this blog as a way to make myself write weekly about food and travel which is what I write mostly about in my freelance life. But somewhere along the way, it took another turn: photography became so important to me that the blog evolved into a personal online art journal. I think of each post as illustrated chapters, and it’s been years since I’ve kept a written journal (although I still keep my photo notes journal – I just started another one. Nothing like a fresh new paper-and-ink journal to  get the creativity going). Five years also marks my joining Flickr and Utata, an online arts group of photographers who opened worlds for me: their support, creativity and kindness over the years has really helped me to develop my photographic eye, and be brave enough to share that eye in public. Blogging, more than anything, has connected me with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise because of distance. (I’m hugging the ‘net through the screen now). Thank you to my blog readers and friends with whom I’ve made creative connections with over the years – it makes me happy and keeps me adventuring.

regent square

regent square

garfield: home

garfield: home

shadows and light

shadows and light

*

*



Hidden Mother
March 27, 2014, 9:30 PM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , ,
The Hidden Mother by Linda Fregni Nagler

The Hidden Mother by Linda Fregni Nagler

A few years ago, “hidden mother” photography buzzed about the ‘net – surreal, creepy photos of Victorian mothers with blankets thrown over their heads while their children sat around them, posing for pictures. I loved these eerie photos, but I wondered: Weren’t children terrified  sitting on the lap of a dark specter? The photographer in me fretted over composition: Why leave the obviously hidden person in the photo, when all it did was call attention to the person who wished to stay hidden?  Linda Fregni Nagler’s The Hidden Mother (MACK) addresses some of these questions in a series of over 1,000 “hidden mother” images. She explains that in the early days of photography, when long exposure times demanded people’s patience, the subject had to keep still. It was difficult to get children to do this for solo portraits, especially for a stranger, so mothers would drape themselves in heavy cloth to keep the focus on the child. In the early days of photography, composition was less important than keeping a visual record of a person, especially in a time with high infant mortality rates. These photos could have been the first image of a person’s life, or their last and only one. In studying the images, I discovered other types of “hidden mother” (and father) photos, ones that show a  disembodied arm reaching out to hold a baby, or the top of a woman’s head as she crouches behind a chair. I bought the first hidden mother photo (below) thinking it was an interesting photographer’s mistake, but now I’m more curious about the faceless woman skirting the edges of the frame.

"Hidden mother" photo found in Beaver Falls, PA.

“Hidden mother” photo found in Beaver Falls, PA.

"Hidden mother" photo from Bethlehem, PA - a gift from my friend Roya.

“Hidden mother” photo from Bethlehem, PA – a gift from my friend Roya.



At the Castle
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You wouldn’t know it judging by no coat and full sun, but I took this batch of photos in February, on a day that teased us with spring. It was windy, but so sunny it blew out most of the shots. We drove around looking for junk, only to discover some places closed, forever – the effects of post-recession life in western Pennsylvania, or simply, nobody wants to drive miles out of their way, to tiny forgotten towns to search the unwanted. For awhile though, I’ve wanted to take photos at Westinghouse Castle, and since we were close, we stopped there. I found it years before by accident: going to a cousin’s baby shower, I had taken a wrong turn and pulled along a massive stone building with a giant clock tower. I wondered about the royal industrial family that once lived there and discovered it is actually the Westinghouse office building, dubbed “the Castle” for that giant clock tower that still keeps time. It was a museum, then closed (when the recession kicked in), and now it’s again an office building. The pavement surrounding the building was threaded with cracks, and small patches of snow glistened in late-daylight. I thought about how most of my generation has lived through one recession or another, how I have to find the beauty in what is ordinary – how eerily quiet it was as I looked up at a window, the curtain pulled back as if someone had just been there, watching.

four o'clock

four o’clock

spring tease

spring tease

test shot

test shot



Unblurred: Creative Citizen Studios
March 6, 2014, 9:46 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , ,

Jeff and Lisa by Lee Kennedy

Studio 5013 features artwork from Creative Citizen Studios, a nonprofit celebrating creativity of people with disabilities. The five portraits of Studio 5013 curators Lisa Toboz and Jeff Schreckengost represent the work of CCS artists Jami Johnson, Matt Beck, Mick Fisher, Lee Kennedy and Robyn McKee. All of these artists are enrolled in CCS’ weekly art classes at the Union Project.

Jeff and Lisa by Jami Johnson

Jeff and Lisa by Jami Johnson

To ask about purchasing artwork, classes, or to discover how CCS builds bridges between the arts community and disability communities, please contact them at citizenstudios.org.  kirsten@citizenstudios.org. 412-576-6254. Through March 31.



(Snow) White Wedding
February 14, 2014, 6:39 AM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , ,
Snow Queen (I had to sneak  in an instant film shot).

Snow Queen (I had to sneak in an instant film shot – PX600 Color Impossible Project)

Each time I go to complain about the cold, I think back to last month on January 4, when these two lovely kids exchanged vows on the Clemente Bridge at 9 in the morning. Jeff was my assistant, and the two of us layered up to brave the cold, clear day – nine degrees and just as we parked the car to walk over the bridge, Kendra and James emerged from the parking garage, holding hands, and as she lifted the hem of her gown to cross the street, revealing blue velvet shoes, I started to tear up. James is an old friend from high school whom I haven’t seen in over 20 years, so yeah, I got a little sappy, and felt honored that they asked me to capture the quiet moments in their big day.

From the North Shore

From the North Shore

Ft. Duquesne Boulevard

Ft. Duquesne Boulevard

Clemente Bridge

Clemente Bridge

Grandview Park, Mt. Washington

Grandview Park, Mt. Washington

Boots!

Boots!

Grandview Overlook

Grandview Overlook

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*

love

love



From Nowhere
February 11, 2014, 8:49 PM
Filed under: Pennsylvania | Tags: , , , ,
Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Sunburst, McKees Rocks.

Recently at a party, I chatted briefly with a woman who coincidentally grew up in a town near the one I’m from. Coraopolis..which high school? I shook my head, for some reason apologetic that I went to a tiny high school that nobody ever heard of, feeling the old, familiar tug in my chest that I spent years trying to shake: trying to explain Nowhere to people who are from Somewhere. I spent my adolescence dreaming of escape, and most of my twenties and thirties trying to find ways to get the hell out of nowhere and off to somewhere, figuring once I arrived, I’d have it figured out. But somewhere along the way, I slowed down, paid attention, looked around, admitted: I like coming from nowhere. I like finding other places in the middle of nowhere, and documenting them for others to see, so that they too can go nowhere and see lives lived beyond all the places in the world that everyone typically wants to be. I love driving to different parts of the city and walking streets I thought I knew. I love being the passenger along roads I know with eyes shut, identifying them by their twists and turns. I love driving along Island Avenue, the road to Coraopolis through McKees Rocks – the route that I’d take to visit my mother. I know this road by the way the light dappled across row houses in late morning, and by the dark, black clouds that shook out a rainstorm one frightening summer afternoon, causing a flash flood. I know the view from the McKees Rocks Bridge, the way the sunset bounces off the gold dome of the Orthodox church in the Bottoms – it always leaves me lighthearted, happy, even – a beacon of hope after my mother died. And one late morning on our way somewhere, Jeff and I finally did stop the car so  I could take these photos, because the October light was too beautiful for me to resist. It’s strange to look back at more ordinary moments like these, not knowing the cold, endless winter awaiting us, the creative ways we’ve spent our time as we push towards spring.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Apartment building, early 1900s, McKees Rocks.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Found next to Pierogies Plus.

Vacancy.

Vacancy.

Forest-like alley.

Forest-like alley.

Early morning, another time.

Early morning, another time.




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