My work is the result of an intuitive creative process. I don’t plan or pre-construct my images- they emerge from a purely visual exploration where I am responding to what I am seeing through the camera on a visceral, gut-instinct level. When I see something that strikes me, I photograph it.

Because of this immersive process, the images I find myself analyzing after a shoot are often a surprise to me as much as anyone else. And often times, I find an image striking, or it speaks to me on some level, although I’m not entirely sure why or how…

Such was the case with the Untitled #08-13-21-567, the last image I blogged about.

Another recent image, Untitled #05-07-21-273, had a similar effect, albeit a very different expression. I immediately responded to this image. It grabbed me. It haunted me. I hung it on the studio wall for weeks, living with it, and trying to understand and articulate the complex feelings it provoked in me. On the one hand, I found it to be a powerful, somewhat mythological image. It stood out on the studio wall among the dozens of other work prints I pin on top of one another as I feverishly edit my favorite images from shoot to shoot. Something about it made me hesitant to share it, however. Perhaps one reason was because I didn’t fully understand it yet myself. Another is because I wondered if people would find the hood-like shape reminiscent of a KKK cloak. When you’ve worked with the nude for as long as I have you run up against a LOT of censorship issues and questions of offensiveness, so with respect to the tragic recent events shedding light on systemic race issues throughout our history, I didn’t feel like the image was advocating racist sentiments.

Untitled #05-07-21-273

What did cause me to ponder, however, was where this image came from in my mind – if that makes sense. Why did I respond to it? Why did I see this hooded, pointy-hat type of form and react? Why have I looked at it every day for months?

The more I lived with it, the more I began to consider the history of this cone-like, hooded shape. It may sound silly at first, but as I began to find the words to query this impression, I found that there is surprisingly thorough origins to this “pointy-hat”. An article from the BBC about the tall pointed hoods worn by La Borriquita Brotherhood in Spain during the run up to Easter sums up its background in saying:

“Wizards wear them and so do dunces. In ancient Rome, freed slaves donned them as a sign of their emancipation. In the 15th Century, noblewomen in France and Burgundy wore them as a status symbol, as did 19th-Century women in the eastern Mediterranean, who elaborately encrusted them with pearls and precious stones. Iron-age mummies known as the ‘Witches of Subeshi’, excavated from China’s Tarim Basin, along the northern Silk Route, were found to have fashioned them from black felt – their characteristic steep spire tapering to a peak nearly 60cm (2ft) above their heads.” 


As I continued to look into it, my initial research showed most connections to the “pointy-hat” are on the darker side, conjuring associations with evil, magic, witches, Satanism, dark rituals and black magic. It has often been referred to as a “horned skullcap”, coming from the Latin “pilleus cornutus”, and relating to the “Horned One” himself…

– The first known people to wear the pointy hat are called the “witches” of Subeshi, whose desiccated corpses were found in East Central Asia. These women were sisters who were accused of practicing magic in Turfan between the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE, and this connection is the first to associate the pointy hat with the archetype of witches, although it was truly the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz who popularized the witch hat in the way we see it today.

– Throughout my research, I continued to find connections to anti-Semitism: in 1215, the Fourth Council of the Lateran issued an edict that all Jews must wear identifying headgear, a pointed cap known as a Judenhat. HOWEVER, prior to this, the Judenhat (which was often white or yellow) appeared in Hebrew manuscripts and even within the coats of arms of German Jews, most likely in observation of the requirement that the head should be covered at all times. In this case, the pointy Judenhat would be more an element of traditional garb, rather than forced discrimination. Sadly, attitudes towards the Jews as far back as the Middle Ages would associate the religion with evil and/or Satan, and so the pointed hats were connected to this view.

– Another connection I found interesting is that to the Quakers of the mid 1600s to 1800s. Puritans believed the Quakers to be evil magic practitioners, and so associated them with wearing pointy hats – an association that STILL exists today. But get this: the Quakers DID NOT EVEN WEAR POINTED HATS. My interpretation of this is that if you voluntarily wear a pointy hat, you are seen as evil, BUT the flip side is also true- if you are seen as evil, you are associated with a pointy hat!

With all of these connections, it is no wonder this image stood out so much to me. All of the associations with the pointy-hat, the cone-like hooded figure, have been there in the background of art and culture throughout hundreds of years. Interpretations of this garb, of this shape, have been passed down through what Jung referred to as the Collective Unconscious, his theory of a third layer of consciousness where we store patterns, symbols, and information that describe our basic humanity. He relates the notion of the collective unconscious to instincts, stating that while our unconscious contains our personal trauma, the collective unconscious is complete at birth and hereditary in nature, and informs our behavior although we’re not consciously aware of it. I go a little more in depth on his theories and other connections, resemblances, and associations here.

I’m sharing this all now and curious to hear what your reactions to this image may be. How do you respond to it? What do you see in it? Independent of anything I have expressed in this post, is there a feeling this image stirs in you, or an association you have with it? I would love to hear your feedback!

In a previous blog post on Influence and Originality, I mentioned that “To be influenced is to engage so deeply with a piece, with a work of art, that it becomes part of you, infecting your point of view, challenging values or just becoming a catalyst for opening yourself to greater experiences.” This idea has always been fascinating to me, and something I revisit often – [see Edvard Munch & Me, Francis Bacon & Me,  etc…].  I love these remarkable connections, unintentional resemblances, and striking references. 



Woman With Dead Child

by Käthe Kollwitz




The Three Shades

by Rodin





The Expulsion Of Adam And Eve From Eden

by Masaccio





The Kiss 

by Gustav Klimt






The Scream

by Munch





Old Guitarist

by Picasso






Standing Male Nude

by Egon Schiele






Henry Moore Sculpture





Untitled #08-13-21-567

When I recently photographed the image shown above, Untitled #08-13-21-567, I immediately responded to it with the same excitement and enthusiasm that I do when one of these connections emerges in my work. This time, however, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what the figure, or the form, or the gesture resembled. I racked my brain, and finally decided to put the question out on social media to see if I could get some insight as to where I had seen this before…

The responses were wonderful! I was thrilled with so many of the immediate suggestions people were sharing, and had to compile only a few of my favorites here. From Käthe Kollwitz and Edvard Munch, to Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso, and even Rodin sculpture. I found them all to be relevant and incredibly exciting! Click on the buttons above to see the images of other artwork next to this latest image 🙂

As I have discussed before, these marvelous associations illustrate not only connections to other works of art, but to what Jung referred to as archetypes – the themes, forms, or expressions that are universal to mankind and resonate in various cultures throughout time. They emerge as the result of a long, intuitive process, where experiencing the work of other artists gives form to previously undefined feelings and thoughts.

Every generation reinterprets and redefines these archetypes in the language of their time to keep them relevant and true to their world. Our continued understanding of them is vital to our understanding of ourselves and one another, as they bear truths that lie at the heart of our humanity. They are the myths that enable us to contemplate our complicated existence, the challenges and consequences of consciousness. 

It’s been a while since the last blog post, but interacting with the community over social media and sharing here is incredibly exciting. I’d love to keep this momentum going and continue to hear your thoughts and feedback!


I’ve taught at the Maine Media Workshops for almost 30 years, and I always love sharing my thoughts and experiences after every summer workshop. Last week, I finished teaching this year’s workshop, “Illusions: Extending Vision” which was offered entirely online through Zoom and a forum based web platform through my own site. Although I’ve tutored many students individually in a similar fashion, this was the first time for me as an instructor hosting such a class, and I have to say, the experience was WONDERFUL!

The class sold out and was a major success, on every level. My students were excellent and so engaged with their work and the process. We were able to have more time to tackle our work together, and the forum platform allowed us to share work, thoughts, ideas and discussions throughout the course. Because of the online format, it was easy to conduct both group and individual critiques.

I couldn’t be happier with the growth and tremendous effort my students displayed, and I’m thrilled to share this video compilation of everyone’s final images. Congratulations to you all, and I’m looking forward to teaching another class in this format again soon!

Now, I understand the implication of writing a post called “Narcissus and Me.”  But when I started the series of posts _____ and Me (see recent posts, “Francis Bacon and Me,”and  “Edvard Munch and Me”) I did not think through the implications of some future writings.  Besides which, having spent all but 17 years of my life pursuing my own passion, the title may actually be appropriate.

In these past “Me” posts I have written about influences from a few of my idols, but I want to delve into something a little different here.  Connections, that are not directly related to some experience or influence, but are there without a doubt.

Untitled #04-14-09-462, 2009
Untitled #04-14-09-462, 2009

This image, made in 2009,  is just one model and his reflection. The model and I are both underwater, and he is looking up. The figure on the right is aware, conscious and giving all his attention to the figure on the left – his reflection. His leaning posture and reaching hand are beseeching the reflection to open his eyes and connect with him. His reflection, however, appears feminine and looks to be losing control, as if giving in to ecstasy or joy. Though there is in fact only one model, this image shows two entirely different points of view: one as a profile, the other as a full face, resulting in the appearance of two people with distinct emotions.

It is no surprise that as I initially studied this image the figure of Narcissus came to mind.

Narcissus, by Caravaggio

The myth of Narcissus illustrates a powerful archetype that describes the human condition we call “narcissism”. The most common version of Narcissus comes from the first century BCE, from Book 3 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which became a major influence on Western culture. In Ovid’s rendering, Narcissus is an exceedingly beautiful young man who attracts the attention of Echo, a young mountain nymph.

 The egotistical Narcissus offhandedly rejects Echo, and in her sorrow and unrequited love wastes away until all that remains is a lonely echo. Upon hearing of this tragedy, Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, decides to punish Narcissus. She manages to lure him to a pool, whereupon he discovers his own reflection and falls in love with it at first glance. He, too, eventually wastes away, longing for a love that can never be returned – his elusive reflection. 

My image above, Untitled 41409462, could also be seen in this more classic interpretation of the myth of Narcissus. Instead of giving into joy, the reflection, the figure on the left, could be seen as fading away, evaporating as Narcissus tries in vain to touch the object of his love. 

This feeling of connection is profoundly gratifying. In this crazy time where we are shut in our homes and effectively isolated from those outside our families, I am appreciating the power and importance of CONNECTIONS.  
Hmmm…. I am thinking of a new topic for a blog post…..

The NY Times did an article on surgical face masks called…. “The Mask”

It got me thinking because, well, what else is there to do?

Masks are in high demand now, though we are told they do no good in preventing the spread of the virus. BUT we are also told to keep a safe distance of 6 feet between people – doesn’t that imply that it must travel through air? Also it attacks the lungs – so wouldn’t wearing a mask protect us, at least a little?

I’ve always been fascinated with the psychology of masks. I wrote an extensive blog post back in 2013 about the appearance of masks within my work and how their presence frequently comes up in my images.

Untitled #08-04-17-605, 2017

As the threat of coronavirus continues to become increasingly threatening and very frightening, I am specifically reminded of the well-known “plague doctor” masks that not only have a place in history but have taken root in popular culture and the steampunk motif.

The carnival-ish, bird like mask was designed with a very specific function in mind. It provided a protective and thorough enclosure for the doctor’s face, blocking access to the respiratory system through the eyes, nose, and mouth. More importantly, and more interestingly, was the reason for the long, creepy beak. At the time of the plague, it was believed that the disease was carried by the foul odors and wretched miasma that accompanied it. The beak of the doctor’s masks acted as a sort of respirator and would be filled with perfumes or anything strongly aromatic – such as dried flowers or herbs and spices – that might help prevent the spread of infection through “bad air”.

While the function of the doctor’s outfits was well intentioned (though scientifically unsound), aesthetically they were terrifying. Can you imagine being horribly sick, maybe even hallucinating due to a high fever and your doctor shows up wearing this?  Perhaps it would scare the plague right out of you.

I can’t help but feel the same when I look at the modern equivalent- gas masks, full facial masks and hazmat suits. We of course know now that these are far more effective than the perfumed bird masks of the bubonic era, but their appearance is similarly intimidating, frightening, and ominous.   Let’s hope these are more effective than their predecessors.  

Stay safe my friends.  Keep 6 feet between you, and I personally think it would not hurt to wear a mask.

PurELL like HELL!

Crucifixion, 1933 & Untitled #06-23-17-534, 2017

My last post was on my relationship with Edvard Munch, one of many connections I have with other artists that fascinates me. Recently, a well-respected curator upon seeing my work, said that I am “having a conversation with the history of art.”  I have felt this for years and thought I would explore some of those connections through my blog.

Etude Du Corps Humaine D’après Ingres, 1984, & Untitled #5893, 1984

Francis Bacon (1909-1992.) is another inspiration of mine whose work has penetrated my psyche and whose influence pops out in my own images periodically. The first time I saw any of Bacon’s paintings was at the Hirshhorn Museum in 1989, and the impact was immediate, powerful and permanent.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion circa 1944, & Untitled #5978, 1994

As discussed in a previous post on “Originality”, Bacon’s influence is the result of a long, intuitive exploration, wherein the experience of his images has heightened my self awareness and gives form to previously undefined feelings and thoughts. Along with the work of other artists I’ll be examining and highlighting on the blog, the resemblances illustrated here are unintentional, and the echoes of their work through my own are the articulation of a deeper, psychological encounter.

Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953, & Untitled #5978, 1994

I’m looking forward to sharing more of these connections, and of course to hearing any thoughts or feedback from readers!

There are many, many artists that I have been interested in, several artists that I admire but only a couple that have penetrated my psyche and become as much a part of me as my DNA.  Munch is one of those.

I was reminded of the first time I encountered Munch’s artwork at the age of 17, at the library in art school. Holding this book of Munch’s work, I realized that I was not alone. The emotional force in his paintings connected with me intimately, directly, and intensely. At this vulnerable age, I was sure I was utterly alone in my despair but Munch revealed to me that was not true. His paintings were screaming my feelings, articulating my fears and connecting to my isolation. From Munch, I connected to heavy overwhelming depression, the energy of anxiety, fear of death, loneliness and confusion of spirituality. Munch knew his work could have these powerful effects.  “Many believe that a picture is finished when they have understood what terms the world and I are on — ergo, a kind of egoism. Yet at the same time I have always thought and felt that my art might also help others understand their search for sanity.” (excerpt from Private Journals of Edvard Munch)

Scream, 1893

Untitled #3912, 1991

To be influenced is to engage so deeply with a piece, with a work of art, that it becomes part of you, infecting your point of view, challenging values, searching for understanding or sanity or just becoming a catalyst for opening yourself to greater experiences. It is an undeniable fact that Munch influenced my work and it is not merely an accident that my work often refers to his artwork.  I have spent my entire life looking at books of art, traipsing through museums but when I find an artist that brings me to my knees in the way Munch’s work does, I embrace it.  Love it.  Consume it.  It becomes a part of me.  Tucked away in my subconscious, Munch’s work has continued to be a part of me, incorporated for decades into my psyche. Jeanette Winterson expressed this perfectly when she stated, “True art, when it happens to us, challenges the ‘I’ that we are.” (Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery, Vintage, 1996)

Vision, 1892

Untitled #3725, 1991

There is no doubt that I have been changed by my relationship with Munch’s artwork and my debt to Munch is as undeniable as is my admiration. 

Madonna, 1894

Untitled #9-27-11-57, 2011

Recently I started looking more directly at Munch’s work in connection with my own and I was truly amazed that the correlations were, at times, direct. Sometimes it is the color palette, the graphic relations or gestures, and, perhaps the most important is the psychological connections.

The Escape, 1886

Untitled #3912, 1991

The Woman at the Urn, 1863

Untitled #5-1-17-819, 2017

Evening Melancholy, 1891

Untitled #3874, 1991

Golgotha, 1900

Untitled #8586, 2000

After my last post “the Agony and Ecstasy of Chaos,” I started thinking more about DAYDREAMS.

Let’s just take a moment here – did you daydream in class, or actually, anywhere? I was always criticized for it – on report cards, and in class. “If only she would pay attention…” was the mantra that followed me from grade school through high school. As I described in my last post, I would spend much of my class time tilting […my head this way and that, trying to line up the cross bars of the window with trees, poles, or buildings outside, until the alignment of the two would make crosses, or parallel lines, or even new shapes.] Little did my teachers know that these seeming lapses was actually the start of my career as an artist!

Untitled #03-15-19-192

Now, I believe that daydreaming is a wonderful and healthy thing to do. It also feels quite good! Letting the mind wander – making connections and putting things together. In our crazy and manic world, we don’t have much time for daydreaming between checking our phones, messages and emails, UNLESS we happen to be lucky enough to be an artist.

When I am looking though the lens, completely present to my seeing, it feels as delicious and wonderful as a daydream. The important piece here is that I am FOLLOWING (NOT guiding) my eyes. In daydreams we allow our minds to wander this way and that without CONTROLLING our thoughts. It is different than the crazy monkey brain that jumps all around distracting us, but rather a pleasant process that leads us . When I am photographing, and truly following my eyes, I am, as in daydreams, not controlling where I am going. At this point I am discovering – trying different relationships between forms, lines, shapes, tones, colors, etc. “WHAT HAPPENS IF….”
These connections may SOUND absurd when I THINK about them, but these visuals may lead to metaphoric seeing.

Untitled 04-19-19-880

This latest work, 2019, illustrates my love and even passion for putting lines and shapes together in “nonsensical” or playful ways. I love lines intersecting, crossing, and following other lines. Currently I am working with two models, one very tall, and the other quite a bit shorter which creates an interesting visual relationship. Above, in Untitled #04-19-19-880, a leg (red light) and an arm (natural light) are combining in a way that makes no reasonable sense but creates a visually fluid dance.

Untitled #06-06-16-598

In 2016, exploring how using different shapes of broken (plastic) mirrors could reshape or reform the figure, I discovered they could also define or exaggerate gestures as in Untitled #06-06-16-598, above.

The New York Times discussed this idea of daydreaming, though they called it doing nothing in this April 29, 2019 article:

Why does this approach lead to metaphorical seeing?
Excellent question……

I will attempt to answer that in a future post –
“The eyes are the scout of the heart” Joseph Campbell

(Any hyperbole you find in this post may be credited to my growing passion for opera…)

Nothing pleases me more than when two distinct lines come together in a surprising way.  They could touch, cross, form a point or run parallel. Actually,  I am also quite pleased when shapes do the same thing – combine to create an entirely new shape.

Putting graphic elements together is extremely satisfying for me.  I don’t know why – but it is not new. As a kid, as I would stare out the window – daydreaming (perhaps that is why my report cards regularly said, “if only she would pay attention in class…”.) I would tilt my head this way and that, trying to line up the cross bars of the window with trees, poles, or buildings outside, until the alignment of the two would make crosses, or parallel lines, or even new shapes. 

Untitled #01-14-19-88, 2019
Untitled #01-14-19-88, 2019

After indulging in this quirky pleasure for 60+ years, I have gotten quite good at it.  Actually, I have made a career out of it.  My work has always utilized this “gift” (?) starting with putting layers of reflections together. My LATEST work takes this even farther.  Let me tell you how this goes in a typical shoot…

I have a large mirror held upright in my studio.  I tape some shards to it creating a graphic mess.  Then I put one model in front and another behind the mirror. This is the start. After fussing with lights for a bit I confront the chaotic mess – a jumble of lines, and fleshy shapes. At this point I often get irritated with myself – why do I put myself through this?  The pressure is to find some interesting relationships within this mess. This self-abuse and “monkey mind” go on for the first minutes, sometimes longer other times shorter.  It stops when I begin to see something – and my explorer self takes over. It is a very slow process organizing this visual chaos – luckily, I love doing it… once I stop the self-talk and just get into looking at the forms.

Why does this work?

Well, for one thing it gives me a different framework to begin exploring shapes.  I’ve been photographing the human form for so many years, in order to continue the challenge of seeing it in a new way I put up different mirror shards, redefining the familiar shapes.

As Gary Zukav writes in the Dancing WuLi Masters:

“True artists and true physicists know that nonsense is only that which, viewed from our present point of view, is unintelligible. Nonsense is only nonsense when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense.”

Untitled #02-15-19-552
Untitled #02-15-19-552

When he says “the point of view” he is talking directly to us photographers.  Point of view is CAMERA ANGLE! The importance of exploring (or playing) cannot be overstated – it is the foundation of seeing in new and unexpected ways. This is particularly evident when working with reflections in the mirror shards, as the transformation from even the slightest shift in camera angle can be drastic.

This blog post can be summed up neatly and poetically by Nietzsche:

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Since I started shooting in color in 2007, after many years as a devote black and white photographer, I have been learning about color and its affect on the “read” of the image. Once I found RED, however, it changed my life. [If you feel I am prone to exaggeration I credit it to my growing passion for opera.] RED conjures passion, depression, elation, energy, viscera, and the most powerful of all emotions – love. Remarkably, it can be both attractive and repulsive – sometimes at the same time.

Recently I invited two very dear and close friends to see my new work in my studio. I have shared my work with them periodically for many years, so they are quite familiar with my images. These are a few of what we looked at:

Untitled # 10-19-18-734
Untitled# 11-30-18-1063
Untitled #11-30-18-854, 2018

Untitled #11-30-18-854

In just a couple of minutes one said that she saw them as pornographic and the other quickly agreed. After I regained my composure, this led to a fascinating conversation. To me these images are not overtly or even covertly sexual [well, maybe a TAD seductive] but this was a reaction I felt I needed to pay attention to. As I have said many times I do not work with an idea or an image in mind but prefer to rely on my intuition. When I am shooting I am exploring the subject in front of me by studying the forms – lines, shapes and tones. I don’t intend for the images to have a specific meaning but rather I see them as open to interpretation by the individual viewer.

I determined that three common ingredients had to be present in the images for them to be considered pornographic to my friends; 1. a face 2. a breast 3. the color RED. 1. The face identifies the figure as an individual as opposed to an anonymous model, opening the doors for a sense of vulnerability. 2. Since a breast is something that is usually hidden, seeing one adds to the idea of a person exposed. 3. But the RED is the essential ingredient in these particular images to evoke those strong feelings.

The different uses of RED-

A little about RED – RED, a primary color (along with green and blue,) symbolized nobility and wealth during the Renaissance; became the color of revolution in Russia, China and Vietnam; and is often used in flags to illustrate power. Because it is the color of blood it is also associated with bravery, sacrifice, and danger. It conjures feelings of passion, anger, love, joy and sexuality [my friends’ reactions.]

Untitled #01-07-19-679

Without a face, as in 01-07-19-679, the sense of vulnerability is lost, but the RED empowers the form with a life force.

Untitled #4-24-12-012
Untitled #4-24-12-01

As I see it, a sense of depression is elicited in Untitled #4-24-12-012, as the RED hand reaches up from hell to pull the psyche down. (Obviously you may have different reaction, but if you see this as pornographic I might suggest medication and/or therapy).

Untitled #09-04-13-287
Untitled #09-04-13-287

Untitled #09-04-13-287 is Oedipus, the tragic Greek figure, who pokes out his eyes after killing his father and marrying his mother [the “Cliff Notes” version of the tale, if you want more detail click here for the Wikipedia version. /]

I would love to hear your thoughts and continue this discussion. Do you see the above images as pornographic? Yes? No? Controversy has been my life-long companion (not by choice) and I am no stranger to censorship, criticism and all the other stuff that goes along with being an artist, so please be honest…