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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Day - Oklahoma State Capitol- April 30, 2013

Artist Statement:

As a hospice nurse and professional photographer, I grew tired of seeing pictures of models who had not endured breast cancer representing those who had. I wanted to share the strength of those in the fight, to honor those who had gone before us and had paid with their lives. 

Her Story: True Stories From Breast Cancer Survivors is designed to chronicle the lives of women through discovery, diagnosis, treatment and beyond. It provides a platform to speak their words. Images captured are patterned from the model, MATUSCHKA, and her award winning, self-portrait – post mastectomy.

Lori's Story
I am married and mother to three beautiful daughters. Having breast fed my daughters (which supposedly decreases the risk of breast cancer) and having had yearly mammograms, I believed that my risk for breast cancer was low. But in September of 2011, I felt a lump under my arm. My doctor examined the lump but said my breast felt normal. Since I was so concerned, he ordered more tests. The tech thought the mammogram looked normal. Then I had the ultrasound. This time, the tech brought the Radiologist with him and I knew then – I HAD CANCER. The biopsy confirmed it. Soon came the MRI, scans, blood work, and meetings with the surgeon. He explained that even though I had had consistent mammograms, Lobular Invasive Carinoma is hard to diagnose until it becomes advanced. I had Stage 3c – metastasis in all 4 quadrants of the breast and in 10 lymph nodes. 2 weeks after my mastectomy, I started my first of 8 rounds of chemo.  Then came 33 rounds of radiation. 8 months after learning I have cancer, my daily prayer is a question – am I cured? Only HE knows for sure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Universal Tear

 Gay Pasley Universal Tear
The mother of this child requested that amateur photographer and Registered Nurse, Gay Pasley “snap for me pickani, please?” Thru an interpreter the woman shared with Ms. Pasley that she was taking her daughter to a therapeutic feeding clinic after being made aware that her child was starving. Although the Sierra Leone civil war had been over for several years many of the girls that were left orphans are now mothers who are unaware of how to care for their children. The impact of war is senseless and it effects generations to come.

Gay Pasley, chief photographer of Black Swan Imaging, felt a strong kinship with the West African community, especially after she learned that her genetic origin was of the Temne people through mitochondrial DNA testing.These are the very people whose lives were brutally taken and used for diamond exploitation as depicted in the movie "Blood Diamond." Today they live   in colonies as "outcasts," often lived as sex slaves, and include many amputees, widows and orphans.

Determined to make a difference, Pasley, who is also a Registered Nurse, traveled to Sierra Leone, West Africa with a European NGO as nurse, humanitarian and medical photographer. She carried much needed supplies and documented the work of Dr. ABD, also a member of the Temne tribe and a self-taught surgeon, at MagBentah Hospital. While there, in keeping with Langston Hughes poem “My People”, she captured the beauty of the people and the country of Sierra Leone, Africa. The images have been described as breath taking, soulful, stunning and Pasley’s work has been acclaimed as “making time stand still”.

My People

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Problem We All Live With ( circa 2012)

The Problem We Live With ( circa 1963) Norman Rockwell

What would Norman Rockwell the pitchman for conservative imagery for almost fifty years have thought about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman? The shooting  took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Florida. Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old African-American Male. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old multi-racial Hispanic, was the appointed neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place. Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and had just purchased Skittles and iced tea. Zimmerman tells police he killed the teen in self-defense after a scuffle.  Zimmerman told a police dispatcher that he was following a young black male (who, according to Zimmerman, “appeared to be on drugs”), the dispatcher responded, “We don’t need for you to do that.” Zimmerman even said, “These assholes always get away.” But not this time. 

In my interview of Norman Rockwell I would inquire about his thoughts on how far America has come in terms of  race relations. I would ask him to explore what challenges and what responsibilities if any he thinks we own today in America. Does he believe that we have achieved the dream of Martin Luther King? If so , when did we achieve it and if not how close are we. Should America remain hopeful?

The Problem We Live With (circa 2012) Gay Pasley
In memory of Trayvon Martin.

In this image my teen aged model is wearing a hoodie while carrying a bag of skittles and Arizona tea just as Trayvon Martin had when he was killed. When I first conceived the image I called it, Last Supper. I wanted shadows and to have a dark ominous feel. 

While serving in the military, I recall a conversation with a white fellow soldier. He shared with me that he was often mistaken for a skin head due to his blonde hair and military hair cut by African-American’s.  The problem we live with is not as black and white as it seems.