FROM JOYFUL PARTICIPATION IN A WORLD OF SORROWS TO COSMOSIS, ARTIST LIBBY ELLIS
As we move toward October, the first in what will be a few intermittent episodes across fall and winter reminding us of the artistry behind our plant and garden love, the artistry underpinning mother nature herself. This week we’re in conversation with artist Libby Ellis – a photographer who sees the fullness of creation in the many faces of the flowers who delight us.
Libby Ellis is a fine art photographer based on the island now known as Martha’s Vineyard, homeland of the Wampanoag people and nation who named the beautiful island Noepe.
Monochromatic and often single-focused, Ellis’ work lands in my heart in a similar way as a Georgia O’Keeffe painting or a Dorothea Lange portrait – all of them capturing the essence of one subject while contributing insight into the workings of life itself – nature, plus the workings of humanity and our perceptions.
In the case of Libby Ellis' work, the focal points include everyday flowers from cosmos to musk roses, hibiscus to magnolia, across the course of their lives and ways of being and growing. Her work has been featured from various locations on Martha’s Vineyard including the Featherstone Center for the Arts and the Carnegie Museum to London’s Saatchi Gallery for the Royal Horticultural Society’s 2022 Botanical Art and Photography exhibit, from the Harvard Divinity School to large scale projection against a high rise building in Denver, CO.
Libby joins us from her studio in Edgartown, MA to share more about her photographic eye and gardener’s heart.
“I love kindness in nature and humankind." - Libby Ellis
"I create contemplative black-and-white photographic portraits of flora. My studio practice is wholly intentional and meditative. Like many flowers in the garden, I am an extroverted introvert and solitude is my most treasured companion in the realm of curiosity."
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF LIBBY ELLIS - all rights reserved.
You can follow Libby's work on line at: www.libbyellis.com/
or on Instagram at: libbyellis_studio/
PS: This is one of those great weeks in the year where CP is a double-header, a Best of Conversation with Maria Popova posted for the on-air listeners, and a new conversation posted for the podcast listeners. A little Autumnal gift for all.
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JOIN US again next week, when we we dig into a conversation about gardening and some of our favorite garden gurus with Joe Gardener - Joe Lampl of the Joe Gardener Show AND the public television program Growing A Greener World. Joe is committed to this not only being a title but his mission. Listen in!
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This fall, the Conservancy brings us Isabella Tree, the author of The Book of Wilding, to discuss how spectacularly nature can bounce back if we only give it the chance through wilding. And what comes is not just wildlife in super-abundance, but also solutions to the other environmental crises we face. The speaking tour takes Tree to New York City on September 29 for the Garden Futures Summit and then to Middleburg, VA on October 2 and St. Louis, MO on October 4. For tickets and more information, go to garden conservancy dot org slash education.
Thinking out loud this week:
I love the titles of libby’s exhibitions almost as much as the mental and emotional state they encourage in me – slow, steady, focused but soft, small but all encompassing. Titles like: Cosmosis, Joyful Participation in a World of Sorrows, and Miraculum.
Her attention encourages us to “make space to see the power of the flowers.”
And here are two quotes from our conversation today that will be keepers for me – to tuck into my journal, to remind myself of and imprint as my own permission slip about the importance of this impulse to garden we share:
“I was always singing to God or what I call God and for me it was a maple tree in the back yard.”
“The flowers are received and seen in a way that brings us closer to our true nature and nature”
So be it. Libby Ellis' voice and view seemed a perfect one to companion us into this season and October.
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