Thursday, July 18, 1991

Kathleen Carr 7/18/91


Kathleen Carr: "Inward spiritual, outward optical"

THE WISDOM OF THE ANGELS—Carr's photo "Eleven Monarch Butterflies: Big Sur, California.'

KATHLEEN CARR: "I learned you could use photography as a vehicle for metaphor."

BY MAUREEN HURLEY

It was an idea whose time had finally come," says Kathleen Thormod Carr of To Honor the Earth: Reflections on Living in Harmony with Nature, the Graton artist's photographic environmental essay of nature—the spirits of the natural world. The 110-page book, with 57 color photographs and accompanying text by Findhorn co-founder Dorothy Maclean, is the result of 15 years worth of nature photos Carr took during her travels around the world from 1972 to 1979. The book features close-up views
of pIant, and vast landscapes—the elements at work—photographs of Scotland, Indonesia, Peru, Greece, Norway, Mexico, Alaska and California. Also included are more recent shots of Sonoma County, where Carr has made her home for the past three years.

According to Carr, To Honor the Earth (HarperSanFrancisco) explores the central relationship we have with the living earth. "The realization of our interconnectedness with all life becomes particularly crucial at this time when the entirety of the web of life on this planet is threatened. These communications awaken the awareness in us that nature has intelligence and a spiritual dimension we can all share," says Carr, a free-lance and fine-art photographer, whose work has appeared in numerous periodicals among them Esquire, Yoga Journal, Psychology Today, New Age Journal, and Cosmopolitan.

Her photos have also been published in several books, including An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms, and The Upstart Spring: Esalen, and the American Awakening. She has exhibited work in both the United States and Scotland. Her "Stone and Pool" was one of 2OO prints selected out of 13,000 submissions to be published in 10,000 Eyes, a 150-year retrospective of photography by the American Society of Magazine Photographers (forthcoming). Carr is a member of the ASMP and has two businesses: Carr Classics Card Company, and EARTHLIGHT Nature Images Company.

The eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, whom Carr first met at the, Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, described Carr's photos as opening "to the beauty of the natural world by way of an inward spiritual, as well as outward optical, awakening of the mind's interest." To Honor the Earth explores some important questions: What is our responsibility in maintaining a balanced ecology? What does proper stewardship of the earth entail? What can we, as individuals, do to cooperate with nature?

In his introduction to the book, New Age philosopher David Spangler reminds us of what we've forgotten. "It reaffirms the existence of the community of nature, of which we are a part, a community of mind and spint as much as of ecology. Also, it shows us that we do have a power of consciousness, of outreach and communion, that can connect us with that community."

Carr, who received her B.F.A. in photography from Ohio University in 1970, said there are two primary influences in her work: One was studying privately with fine-arts photographer Minor White in Massachusetts. "I learned you can use photography as a vehicle for spiritual work." Interested in the idea of photography as a metaphor, she found she could express many levels of awareness and realization through her work.

The second influence was Findhorn itself—an experimental community in northeastern Scotland that made global headlines in the early '70s when vegetables of enormous size and vigor were grown in nothing but sand dunes. "What began as an experiment to see how well humans could co-create with the spirit kingdoms in growing vegetables and flowers became a show-place of spiritual law in action," wrote P.M.H. Atwater in Runes.

In 1975, Carr collaborated with Dorothy Maclean on The Findhorn Garden, a pioneering work of cooperation with the spirits of the natural world, which attracted international attention. They also produced Faces of Findhorn and The Findhorn Family Cookbook. Maclean, who divides her time between Seattle and Toronto, is a lecturer and author of several books, including To Hear the Angels Sing. and leads workshops throughout the world on interspecies communications.

Carr says that when she got to Findhorn in the early '70s, her job was to photograph nature to do a slide show; the focus was on nature and the spiritual essence of all forms. "I'd always been drawn to nature, I felt connectedness with it. Through photography I began to look more closely at nature. I started to feel the essence.... I am fascinated by the energy I sense within the forms I am photographing. Using a variety of techniques, I attempt to express this presence more tangibly. When I take the time to really see, I am filled with wonder at the mystery and perfection in nature and in people. I photograph to communicate these feelings ... to reconnect to the beauty and inner radiance in everything."

When Findhorn Garden came out in 1975, Carr received "a lot of feedback" from readers who said how the book changed their lives. "I realized I wanted to dedicate some of my photographic expression to work that would have a transformational effect on people's consciousness and awareness about the earth and caring for nature."

When Carr was selecting the text and slides for the manuscript of To Honor the Earth, she had an idea of the types of photos she wanted to use. "The messages came from the photos themselves." said Carr, who also designed the book layout. The book is divided into four chapters. The first chapter is designed to introduce people to the concept of intelligence behind nature—likc British biologist James Lovelock who coined the idea of Gaia, the earth as a single living entity.

When I questioned Carr about that chapter's title, "The Wisdom of Angcls," she hastened to explain, "The word 'angel" is not accurate," referring me back to the book's preface. "What Dorothy Maclean experienced at Findhorn was a force field with no form, shape or color. She used the word 'dcva.' Sanskrit for 'shining one," the word 'angel" is too loaded.

Carr referred to the experience of "devas" as more akin to plant biologist Rupert Sheldrake's "morphogenic force fields." These M-fields direct the shape, development. and basic behavior of all living species and systems, functioning as invisible blueprints. or connecting memories.

Chapter 2 deals with the elements, moving into matter. Said Carr, "When we move into our center, we are connected to everything on a spiritual level. This chapter is to remind us what we already know. How can we stop war if we don't have peace within us?" Going back to the self to affect inner change affects outer change.

Chapter 3 is on the, call of the trees—the only urgent series of messages Maclean received from the am dates back 25 years. "Trees are like the skin of the earth. If more than one third of the skin dies, the being dies." The fourth and final chapter focuses on cooperation—to present the idea of cooperating directly with nature in order to clean up some of our messes.

So far, the book has been well received and sold over 6000 copies in the fust month of release. Carr has given over 30 lectures and workshops in Hawaii and the Bay Area since April 21, many with Dorothy Maclean. She said every event has been filled to capticity—standing room only. Carr said the choice of gift/ coffee table formal for the book was deliberate because they wanted to reach a wider audience; they wanted people to be drawn into the photography—then to read the text.

The photographs featured in To Honor the Earth are not necessarily indicative of Carr's work as a fine art photographer. When I questioned heron some of the clichéd images used in the book, Carr agreed. "I personally felt divided—I consider this my 'service work,' caring for the earth, and I wanted to use my photography to inspire and touch people's hearts—to reach a wider audience." She said the style of a photo (what sells) can be in conflict with how she sees herself as a growing artist. She exclaimed, "My repertoire is more broad-based: I do black and white photography, nudes, abstracts...I had to make a choice."

The multiple-exposure shots of a rowan tree in Scotland and maples in Sonoma, with their experimental format, demonstrate a new direction in Carr's work. "I've communicated an energy, aliveness. a juiciness of nature—which is not present in most nature photography," she says, referring to a tight closeup of a sensuous folded poppy bud.

Making the book was not an easy prospect for Carr, who, in the middle of production, discovered she had cancer and was forced to take time to heal herself. It too became a metaphor. "The balance of taking care of myself and fulfilling rcsponsibilities and commitments became a major challenge. My focus had to shift to taking care of myself, To take the time to go inside; any act from that place has more power. If we want to create balance in the world, first we need to create it within."


Carr's work is on exhibit at the Q Gallery, 140 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa. through July 3l. Some of her work will also be on view at the East West Cafe in downtown Sebastopol throughout August.



THE WEST SONOMA COUNTY PAPER, JULY 18-31, 1991 page 21


Wednesday, July 17, 1991

MATIN


MATIN
(a brief telephone conversation from the other side of the world)


Stricken by the binary division of male and female,
last night I burned translucent amber. Sacrifice.
In the air above our heads, an aurora borealis
alive with blue light, the rosiated sky timeless, & of no age.
Solar winds entered our crowns, our last chakra,
we tumbled like leaves across the autumn bed.
Our morning eyelids bathed in red corpuscles
dancing between membrane and cornea.
Reflections on stone, clearer than blood.
The time we didn't have, thick sacramental wine.

Someone said the art of compromise,
not conflict—is the basis of civilization.
Somewhere inside all of this, another story is waiting.
We come into this world innocent
only to be toughened by life's school—
What separates us from ourselves and from each other?
It makes me think this trouble goes deeper than culture.
Someone said, it's the men who suffer most of all—
We wonder why there's so much trouble in the world;
we can't even build a bridge to meet half-way.
We keep diminishing love,
as if love and pain were stillborn Siamese twins.
Guilty beasts rising up from within the self,
we felt bound to each other, and to time;
we became our own worst enemies.

I burned the precious resin more ancient than Man,
because to find a love that endures is rarer still.
In the fire surrounded by fire, on dawn's watered cusp,
your voice is distorted by phone lines—Sunspots.
Satellites, precocious star sounds, the cackle of deep space.
The path of the corona extends to the limits
of the solar system as solar wind.
Each ring of the bell, a matin of the heart,
a prayer wheel and flag for all our tresspasses.
As in the fairy tales, we'll mourn
the obligatory year and a day.
But I can't answer those bells yet—your voice,
as if from the dead, still argues from within.


1991  date? Who is it to? Oleg? Bruce?
rev. 5/92


Thursday, July 11, 1991

UMBRA, CITY OF REFUGE, HAWAII, 7/11/91


UMBRA, CITY OF REFUGE, HAWAII,  7/11/91


.
The
Moon bites
the   Sun's  lips.
A circle of darkness:
the umbra descends like a

tent across the barrier of clouds
as if companion light was trapped

deep in the arms of summer, remembering
the past as blue as dreams of fish wanting to

be water, becoming water.  The birds, just finished

with the morning song, begin a hurried evening chorus.

Dawn winds reverse directions. When Perseus threw Med-

usa's shining head into the sea, the algae turned to coral. We

look directly at the sun, and we are not turned to stone.  A chil-


led, primeval silence: stars surround the corona. It's a sun flowering

      iii
        eyeyeye
with serpents of light; a vast  e y e,  a hole opening into the universe.
        eyeyeye
      !!!

But if the moon is moving away from the earth, total solar eclipses


are doomed to extinction.  Between the silhouetted moon's mount-

ains— solar flares, Bailey's beads, & the dazzling diamond ring.

The ocean winds & perplexed birds prepare once again for dawn.

A wild cheer is raised across the island for the prodigal sun.

We clap, cry & rejoice. A couple exchanges wedding vows.

The end of totality,  I break tapu by casting a common-
er's shadow in the City of Refuge, and leave my pik-

ake lei on the stone altar to appease the old gods
but the Ailii are asleep; the sea turtle glides,

a raptor over the sleeping coral. Ris-
ing tides pull at me,  a shim-
mering storm, wanting
to be  air, becom-
ing air.


3/5/92

1992 Chaminade Literary Review

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