In Search of Roots
I've worked as a nurse all my life and know myself as a lover of the arts, always in awe of the creative process. Having grown up in a large blue collar family with the central question, "What are you going to do to get a job?", I graduated from nursing school in 1972 with the impression that I could get a job any where. I did not honor my interest in the arts until after working in nursing for over three decades.
The return to school for an art degree as an older adult brought overwhelming challenges coupled with blessings beyond belief. In 2006, I studied at the University of Art, Poznan, Poland, then traveled to Croatia in search of my paternal grandparent's roots. Photography and writing became my traveling companions. Without a smart phone or laptop with me at the time, my point and shoot camera and I frequented internet cafes so I could download and copy images to CDs en route.
One of my most meaningful photographs was taken on the island of Krk, Croatia. It was here that I learned from a man in an internet cafe in Zadar, Croatia, that my grandmother’s maiden name, Srsic', was common. I intended to plant a tree in honor of my heritage but had no idea how to accomplish that. Word got out that an American was in search of her family history. As fate would have it, I was taken in by kind and generous people who had the Srsic' name, although we were not as directly related as I had hoped.
The elder woman granted my wish by planting an olive tree sapling in the small grove beside her home. She dug the soil with old tools, none as movingly beautiful as her own hands. I photographed her sweat as she toiled for me and for my family and saw centuries revealed in the lines of her face. My need to belong to something or someone was met by my shadow looking up at me from the image with her hand superimposed over the area of my heart. Her strong hands held all my fragmented parts as she set that olive tree in the earth.
In that fleeting moment, I felt the union of my physicality and spirituality. My shadow, coupled with such sweet intention, transported me beyond earthly roots to another experience, a place of true belonging, of source and destination.
My photographic signature remains that of reflections and shadows; a spiritual practice that evokes a sense of familiarity and wonder for me.
May the photos that I have been gifted with bring you good medicine.