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Poignant Portfolio no. 11: Dawn Surratt

After more than 20 years of working with hospice patients and families, I continue to hold their many stories of infinite grace, wisdom, and grief in my bones. Bearing witness to their end of life journeys has forever changed me and continues to influence me both personally and creatively. This body of work has been a way for me to metaphorically sweep off the graves of those many souls; to honor their presence on this earth and to thank them for allowing me the privilege of bearing witness to them during their most intimate and intense time of life.

Considering material items have long held importance in the grieving process as transitional mementos of memory and comfort, it was important to me that this project embodies objects to serve as tangible representations of familiarity that connect to memories. Photography based installations were created as spaces for quiet reflection and quotes and perceptions from patients and families were bound in a handmade book to offer as contemplations.

Poignant Portfolio no. 10: Brian James Culbertson

Brian Culbertson uses his photographs to raise questions about the depersonalization in modern medicine, where prescription drugs are given out to individuals based on symptoms, regardless of differences in their physical or chemical makeup. Adverse uses both the process and the end result to highlight the danger of this one-size-fits-all approach. Brian creates multi-layered portraits which are printed using the salt print process with prescription medication incorporated into the salt solution. The incorporation of medications used to alter the chemistry of the mind into the salted print process yields unpredictable results with each print - just as it does with our own bodies.

Poignant Portfolio no. 9: Natalie van Sambeck

Natalie van Sambeck specializes in one-of-a-kind antiquarian pigment prints that reveal the artist’s hand in each piece of artwork. Her work is tailored to those who desire unique imagery that invoke a deeper exploration into the inner workings of the subconscious mind and our perception of reality. As an artist, Natalie van Sambeck is inspired by the natural world and mankind’s relationship to nature. Influenced by the teachings of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, van Sambeck offers a unique perspective that challenges conventional ways of thinking about the broader issues surrounding home, identity, the human condition, and our relationship to nature. With an emphasis in alternative processes and self portraiture, van Sambeck creates unique handcrafted works of art that offers her distinctive vision.

Poignant Portfolio no. 7: Alanna Airitam

From the editor: “I was introduced to Airitam's work when she was recently a guest on the Keep the Channel Open podcast this past May. I was delighted to hear about her process and purpose of the series. Airitam mentions in the interview that the work was sort of an "emotional vomit" in reaction to current social injustices. The context and implications of the work create a dichotomy... considering these beautiful images are a reaction to a topic that encapsulates so much pain and hatred. Congratulations to Alanna for creating such a tremendously powerful series.” –Blue Mitchell

Poignant Portfolio no. 6: Luther Gerlach

The 2017 Thomas Fire is the largest in California history, an extreme example of a powerfully destructive and creative cycle endemic to the region. The burn came within a quarter mile of my home, and as the smoke cleared, I was struck by how it had abstracted the landscape, leaving white shadows of ash where trees had been and turning a once-colorful forest black, rendered completely bare of undergrowth. Only the strongest features remained.

Poignant Portfolio no. 5: Paula Riff

I've been a fan of Paula's for a while now and had the pleasure of meeting her at Photolucida last year. What drew me to her work in the past was her experimentation with photo-based pictures. This new series Shibui is on another level. A sophisticated actualization as a result of her love and exploration of the craft. Shibui's simplified design mixed with organics topped off with a yummy color palette. Divine. Thanks Paula! –Blue Mitchell