Welcome to #3 in our new series Poignant Pics where I’ve asked photo curators, collectors and makers to write about a photograph or two that, in one way or another, has significantly impacted their cerebral cortex. Rachael Banks reflects on dreaming of wild ponies, falling in love, and photographing her muse in the same way (and place) Emmet Gowin had four decades earlier.
Emmet Gowin // Edith // Chincoteague Island (Virginia) // 1967 // Gelatin silver print
Love isn’t something you can always hold or hear but you can see it in Emmet Gowin’s photographs.
When I was a little girl, I spent most of my time fully absorbed by literature. One of my favorite books was a story about the wild ponies of Chincoteague and Assateague Island. I found myself completely transfixed on the idea of such a mythical place that I would frequently visit in my daydreams. At night I dreamed about running with wild ponies.
Later as an adult, I fell in love quickly and unexpectedly. After only a couple weeks of knowing each other, I suggested a road trip. We drove twelve straight hours to the place that as I child I thought was too magical to be real: Chincoteague Island. In an impulsive moment, I discovered the place from my childhood dreams and the feeling of being hopelessly in love.
I have always been interested in the photograph’s ability to communicate what words cannot. For years, I photographed my lover and muse in attempt to turn every memory we shared into a tangible object: a photograph. I have always admired Emmet Gowin’s work and his ability to encapsulate his love for his wife Edith. I was deeply infatuated with the notion of the muse and found that Gowin perfectly showcased the essence of a person in the form of a photograph. Love isn’t something you can always hold or hear but you can see it in Emmet Gowin’s photographs.
Months after my relationship ended, a dear friend gave me a book of Emmet Gowin’s work. As I looked through the pages I came across a photo of Edith at Chincoteague Island. Suddenly, I found myself years back in time to the beach in the middle of the night, watching the dancing silhouettes of wild ponies while sitting next to the person I loved and nothing else mattered. On the island from my childhood dreams, I spent the day with my love and forty-six years earlier, so had Emmet Gowin. The photograph is proof.
Rachael Banks is a Louisville, KY native who is living and working in Dallas, TX. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in photography from Texas Woman’s University and Bachelor of Arts degree in photography and painting from Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. Her research interests include family dynamics, identity, accessible art, zine culture, and collecting seemingly insignificant items in plastic bags.
Currently, Rachael is working as the Communications Manager for the non-profit organization Crusade for Art and she recently accepted an appointment as Assistant Professor in Photography at Northern Kentucky University that begins in Fall 2016.