I have spent the last 8 years photographing my children in the ocean and pool to explore their seasoning in the water. From their love of small wavelets lapping at their toes to being inside the 6′ waves in the shore break, I have watched and witnessed and documented every step of their learning process.
I have been inspired by Wayne Levin for many years. His ‘Canoe Paddlers’ and ‘Surfers’ caught my attention when we were living in Hawaii in 2001. Since this time, I knew that I wanted to create a series of images in B&W in the ocean. I had only created underwater color images of that magical place but have known for many years that my love for Pictorialism and the Sea would merge at some point in my career. I first began to explore the look of my B&W underwater work in March of 2010 during a maternity session in Laguna Beach and then the story began in May and July of 2012 when we were living on our boat in Dana Point.
The series has evolved from a story of my own memories of my relationship with the ocean to a story of initiation rites. I began to research the concept of ‘rite of passage’ six months ago and found that my children’s discovery of the ocean is like a rite of passage in many ways. I am fascinated with the idea of “passages” from my many years of climbing and leading climbs for Outward Bound to the peaks of California, Colorado and Mexico and from the actual sailing “passage” I made in 2000 from San Diego to Hiva Oa.
These images are meant to illustrate the “ambiguous transition” that happens during a traditional ‘rite of passage’ event.
In Wikipedia the three phases are explained:
“Rites of passage have three phases: separation, transition, and reincorporation, as van Gennep described. “I propose to call the rites of separation from a previous world, preliminal rites, those executed during the transitional stage liminal (or threshold) rites, and the ceremonies of incorporation into the new world postliminal rites.”
In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. “The first phase (of separation) comprises symbolic behaviour signifying the detachment of the individual or group … from an earlier fixed point in the social structure.” There is often a detachment or “cutting away” from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is “cutting away” the former self: the civilian.
The transition (liminal) phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but has not yet entered or joined the next. “The attributes of liminality or of liminal personae (“threshold people”) are necessarily ambiguous.”
In the third phase (reaggregation or reincorporation) the passage is consummated [by] the ritual subject.” Having completed the rite and assumed their “new” identity, one re-enters society with one’s new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation, and by outward symbols of new ties: thus “in rites of incorporation there is widespread use of the ‘sacred bond’, the ‘sacred cord’, the knot, and of analogous forms such as the belt, the ring, the bracelet and the crown.””
This work is very important to me and is close to my heart. It is more important for me to express the exact idea that I have visually than it is to get any recognition for it.
I am honored to have been recently contacted by Blur Magazine to feature this series in their Proeyect section. You can download a copy here.