Tag Archives: plants

Bathroom Window

Windows have always been a recurring theme in my work. There is something about them that draws me in. I see them as tiny portraits with a soft anonymity. Outside the frame, I usually know nothing about the people who spend their time on the other side of the glass. The audience is left only to make their own judgements, form connections or experience nostalgia in whatever way behooves them.

The image below is of my own bathroom window, taken from inside the home looking out. This is a new perspective for me, most of the time I am on the outside looking in. The irony is, I equate my images of windows as anonymous portraits as I stated above.  Here it becomes a self-portrait. I see myself as the vine, and this is what the movement of my life looks like.

 

Bathroom-Window-Web

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Wilted in Sunlight

This is my first blog post since August, its rather incredible to acknowledge how disconnected I have become to my work. Its intimidating in the sense of not remembering how to begin again. But really, all you have to do is begin. Its a similar feeling when I complete a photo project, afterwards I feel this sense of loss, a void is present for some time. Then I remember to go out and photograph something, anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, and that reassurance is there and I am reminded of why I choose to use a camera as my artistic tool.

Needless to say, 2016 beat me up a bit. I have accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself; I moved back to Chicago. I didn’t share the ride with anyone. I spent three days in my car alone with my radio, and crossed Illinois state lines on my birthday, which was pretty great. I reached a goal and upgraded my camera equipment. I also grieved with the rest of the world over Standing Rock, a Trump election, Aleppo, ISIS, the most farcical election season of my life, just to name a few, however, I am grateful for the growth and experience this year has offered me. I feel like a wilted plant sitting in a windowsill of sunshine. Beaten, bruised, aged, yet basking in the harsh light of the world.

 

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Lavender at the End of Summer

As some of you may know, I have relocated to Los Angeles, California. I also have a new website, which you can see here, (www.courtneypenzato.com). In an effort to cope with my homesickness for Chicago, I have revisited some images I took towards the end of summer in my mothers backyard. I have posted from this series before. Portrait-like images of the plants she grows in her garden.

Picking up your life and moving over 2,000 miles away has an almost nauseating effect. The parallels between excitement and fear are almost impossible to distinguish. The feelings you get in your body when experiencing either one  are practically identical. My creativity has come to a halt, and has been replaced with creating a new resume and looking for a job. Allowing time to feel whatever it is this particular day or that. Learning my new environment, creating a space within myself to call LA home. It’s not as easy as I had anticipated, and I’m slightly embarrassed by my naivety in this regard. I was ready, so I thought. But home is home, and not even paradise can take that away.

The lavender flower is a spectacular plant. It comes from the latin word, lavare which means to wash. The cleansing properties it possess are both immaculate and divine. It is a time of self-destruction and rebirth for me. It is both painful and joyous at the same time. I reference the phoenix quite often in my writings, as I feel it is my spirit animal. I am the phoenix, yet again. Like the flower shown here, it has lost its lustrous purple/blue color and has become dry. However, when springtime comes again, so will its essence. One attribute that remains with this plant through the midwestern fall season, is its scent. The most powerful of all the senses. It is both soothing an healing. Calming and relaxing.

Lavander is a totem for my transition.

 

Lavender at the End of Summer

 

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Spider

In reference to some older posts titled, My Chastity Belt and Spider Plant and I, I’d like to take a minute and talk about the spider. To me, spiders are absolutely fascinating. I once went to watch the sunrise on top of this old landfill turned forest preserve near my house. The sunset was divine, and the mosquitos were the absolute worst. On the long walk back to the car, I stopped and noticed a spider weaving its web in the brush. I sat and watched that spider for what seemed like hours, but was only a few minutes. How simple its life, up early working, building its house, in a what was pretty misty morning. I was in awe. I completely forgot about my seemly silly life, always rushing here or there, doing this or that, yet not really doing anything. Somewhere, little spiders are diligently working just building their house. I remember feeling wasteful in this moment. Wasting my time and my energy on things that didn’t really pay off, that weren’t for the greater good. I envied the spider. I wished for such simplicity in my own life. I wanted to do something more by doing less. Marry simplicity with a work ethic.

I view the spider plant as an abstract symbol of an actual spider. The resemblance is almost uncanny! And just like the spider, the spider plant diligently works to make its babies in order to spread its seed. Here again, simplicity and a work ethic in perfect harmony. This plant in particular I have had for over ten years. I absolutely adore this plant. On several occasions I have clipped the babies off and transplanted them in to smaller pots, only to give them away as gifts. Its a very rewarding feeling; gifting. Some places build an economy around it. Simplicity along with a work ethic are spiders’ gifts to the rest of the world.

We could learn a few things from this glorious insect.

Spider Plant

 

 

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Spider Plant and I

In an attempt to shed some light into my blog and break away from the serious nature of the representation of my self-portraits, I felt the need to revisit my Impossible Series images. It has been quite some time since I posted one. I chose the spider plant image due to the reference I made about the Black Widow spider in my last post. My brain makes weird connections, I know this. I figured it would give me the chance to talk about my plans for presentation for this work. It will eventually end up in a a handmade photo book, mounted on handmade 100% cotton rag paper. And, since most of my Impossible Series is of plant matter, there will be plant matter in the paper I make. I will then scan it and make it available in zine format, both digitally and for sale in hard copy. My partner and I are planning on making some paper real soon. We need a new mould and deckle first… When that occurs I will probably be sharing some of that process with you as well. Making paper is truly a beautiful process.

I have managed to keep this spider plant alive for over ten years. I got it at a garage sale eleven years ago. This isn’t really saying that much, considering that spider plants are extremely resilient. It takes a lot to kill them. There is a parallel between myself and my spider plant. I have not had the easiest life, yet have managed to survive every trial and tribulation that has been in my way. It has made me stronger, wiser and overall a better human being. I have no regrets, for what I have been through has shaped the person I am today. In fact, I am extremely grateful. I have a greater appreciation for people in my life and the moments we make together because of it all.

Another thing I adore about the spider plant is the fact that they produce babies. They sprout tiny spider plants that can be cut off and transplanted into pots and given away to people, if you so wish. So not only is it resilient, it is also giving. Most plants are, but spider plants are extremely easy to transplant. And, sharing is caring as my kindergarden teacher taught me.

Spider Plant

 

 

 

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