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    “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ▻ John Muir
  • Cosmos

    This project is currently in development - the images here are sketches:

    It began with growing up on a country road ʻwalking-distanceʼ to a Quaker meeting house. I remember whispering to my Mother on the pew, “What is God?” and her answering, “a mysterious force in the universe”. I also remember trying to visit the cemetery behind the meeting house—at night. Have you ever felt the darkness of an unlit country road? What occurred was an acute sense of being in a body, on a planet, spinning through space.

     These mystical notions, coupled with the more concrete idea that planet Earthʼs resources may be limited, drive my artistic practice. This developing body of work deals with nostalgia about place—in the broadest sense of the word. I like to consider how a person would cope with moving their sense of place - familiarity - nostalgia to an alien landscape. If spirit can go anywhere, how does it feel at home? Where does spirit live when not in human form? Contemplating these questions I make images that are both Earthly and alien.

  • Empty The Cache

    In my photographic work I like to think about the experience of viewing artwork and how our perceptions and beliefs play a role in that. An obvious aspect of this is that we are bombarded with visual imagery in this media infested culture. It's fascinating to me how overexposure to certain types of imagery can change our feelings about the subject matter. Much like a word that gets overused, the overviewed subject matter tends to lose meaning, in the fields of human perception. Through the widespread use of landscape imagery to sell conservation memberships or to sit behind sentimental quotes in the greeting card industry, certain images of the landscape have become almost repulsive. For instance, only a rare few get still get to make work like Ansel Adams did - Sebastiao Salgado is a good example of someone still successfully doing this - National Geographic has done it well in the context of the magazine. This series explores how to get beyond the photographic still life, calendar shot, botanical documentation, travel photography or the landscape as a backdrop to a fashion editorial. I've wondered: is there a way to clear the palate of our busy minds first so that we don't immediately  dismiss the image as "just another picture of a landscape"?   I have inserted a blank shape into some of the images that might serve this purpose...other images show that nature, herself, actually has these meditative viewing areas available naturally. "Empty The Cache" is a command on a computer that when performed empties all the information in your browser. For the health of the computer it's wise to periodically perform this task in your browser of choice. It frees the memory of your computer. Titles from left to right are: Empty The Cache,  A Break,  Smoke Break,  For The Afternoon,  Give Me A Minute,  A Bright Spot,  Tuesday,  I'm Not Sure Yet A Review of this work  by The Memphis Flyer
  • Primitive Plants

    PRIMITIVE PLANTS  This series is an ode to the first plants that existed on planet Earth. These first, primitive land plants helped create an oxygen-rich atmosphere suitable for animal life. These images have two parts: forms that are in-focus pointing to fact, and parts that are ethereal and point to the mystery of life underpinning all evidence. At the end of the Permian Period ( 251million years ago – before the Dinosaurs) there occurred the largest mass extinction Earth has ever known. Fossil records show that the primitive plants we use in humid terrariums, such as Mosses and Ferns, were around before that mass extinction and continued to thrive after. They survived it. They covered the earth easily with spore reproduction and their ability to trap moisture. Impressively, primitive land plants evolved into Angiosperms that bear flowers, fruits and seeds. These new plants could sustain animals through their stomachs, a more obvious use. (More obvious than breathing?) Consequently, I find it fascinating that those original, primitive plant species continue to exist and serve a role in our complex web of life. They persist because they are relevant. Perhaps they will save our species from its own self-destructive folly in the future…?   — Stephanie Cosby, 2013 PS. All images in this series were created by shooting through the glass walls of terrariums built by the artist and her two daughters.
  • Nurtured By Nature

    Roland Barthes wrote an essay called "Toys" about a child's creativity  being unleashed by non-representational objects, especially natural ones like wood. He said that pre-conceived toys caused kids to only want to imitate adult behavior thus limiting them from envisioning a new kind of life. What I'm documenting with this project, is children using natural, mostly non-representational objects to mimic, process and make sense of an adult world in which they find themselves. I have to contend with Mr. Barthes and say I'm not sure there is any way around learning through mimicry. That process seems to arise naturally from children. A child would pretend a piece of wood is a domestic object if they are 'trying out' domestic life. If they want to 'try out' caring for something a piece of wood could be a doll or pretend animal as much as a store-bought stuffed animal stands in for the real thing. My possible conclusion is that our human minds want to make meaning/narrative/story. No matter what landscape or setting a child finds themselves in or objects they have access to, they will get busy making meaning out of them. I'm sure that what meaning is made and what story gets told is affected by place and object. In the case of these two girls, there is a direct connection between their immersion in nature and how curious, philosophical, thinking-in- relationships, creative, inspired and inquisitive they are. I would say: being nurtured-by-nature helps play become the work of learning. I've continued this project on Instagram. The collection can be seen at my hashtag: #nurturedbynaturescc  “The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”  - Mary Oliver
  • Is Also Death

    ....because the garden saves my life, because I conjure happiness from among its stems. I reach into the spiderwebbed tangle and pull a warm fruit from its vine. I listen to the birds converse about the seeds and brush the wispy grass with my hand. I watch the light move and know there's a place the light won't hit. It helps me to consider that in every living moment is also death. The garden understands this better than most. Petals and Vines Garden - Summer 2012 - Summer 2013  
  • The Green Diaries…A Southern Love Affair

    Moving to Memphis, TN revived the photographer in me, but not because it was so overtly beautiful, interesting or inspiring. It was quite the opposite. I needed to use the camera to find beauty in flat, over-developed land. Growing up in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana I was accustomed to lush, romantic landscapes. Dramatic in scope, rolling, bucolic and pastoral—filled with 'the perfect view'. It was those settings that sealed the deal between me and the landscape. In Memphis I could not find 'the landscape' so my relationship with Memphis became like a bad marriage. There aren't many grand views in Memphis but Memphis is truly a forest. If you look between the pavement you can see it. I became determined to find its beauty, and I think I have. In fact, I've fallen a little bit in love with it. These images are a collection of those photographs from 2010-2013. They were taken around Memphis in Shelby County as well as 3 driving hours out in different directions. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas. I have continued the project with my iphone on Instagram using the hashtag: #thegreendiariesscc
  • Fungi

    This is a collection of the Fungi I've encountered in Shelby County since 2009 when I began recording them. Some are edible, some medicinal, at least one known deadly...the rest, still a mystery to me. Locations are Overton Park, Shelby Forest, and Shelby Farms. Fungi are one way nature works to adapt and thrive and continue its cycles of renewal despite the imposed human element. Fungi are busy healing the Earth, making soil, eating the dead, completing the cycle that leads to renewal. They are an essential part of the Mississippi River Valley. In fact, their presence signals the health of this ecosystem. This work is made in the spirit of conservation.
  • Lichen

    Lichen are the result of a symbiotic relationship between Algae and Fungi. Lichen from Rusellville, AL - Shelby Forest, Millington, TN - Nesbit, Mississippi This work is made in the spirit of conservation.  
  • Geology

    From my birthplace, Brasil, my mother brought shells, corals, dried starfish and seahorses. I spent time in early childhood, examining them in awe, smelling them and getting to know the feel of the surfaces. The colors and forms I fell in love with. Later in childhood we spent summers in the upper peninsula of Michigan on Lake Superior. There, my parents and I collected and coveted stones and pebbles...they  lined the windowsills of the home I was raised in. I've collected stones throughout my life from different places and asked friends who traveled to bring me a stone from various exotic locations worldwide. Stones have been given and received in love. My home now in Memphis, TN is close to AR where many crystals (and sometimes diamonds) can be found in the earth. My husband and I have taken our daughters to excavate crystals and fossils passing the love of geology and artifacts on to them. For now, we keep moving stones, minerals, and fossils around the surface of the earth and line our windowsills with them—satisfying some deep attraction we have to keeping them close by.  
  • Palm Reading

    In '94 the summer after I graduated from high school  I went back to my birthplace in Brazil for the first time since I'd left at the age of two. It was a sort of coming-of-age, returning-to-my-roots moment before I started College. After returning to the U.S. I found that I was haunted by one experience I'd had there. I'd traveled to a small island in Porto Seguro, Bahia and there, I encountered an old man who firmly grabbed my hand, stared at my palm and shaking his head said,  "You have more past lives than any person I've seen!" Could somebody know something about the life of a living being by reading the lines on their body? The shadows created by the height of a tree and the lines of vines, roots and branches are like lines on a palm telling the story of the forest, it's history. Our Earth bodies can be read like a book. Much like Odin in Norse Mythology who read fallen branches under the World Tree where hung for a night and created a prophetic language called Runes, I have become fascinated by the lines I find in my environment. This collection can be found on Instagram at my hashtag: #linediariesscc .
  • Deeper Down

    The Memphis Zoo Aquarium images taken in Spring of 2012 explore the tension between artificial and natural. Walking slowly around the warm and dark aquarium evokes a peaceful feeling that I suppose taps into my time spent in a uterine world when I was a fish for a second, before taking human form.  Glimpsing this underwater world offers an opportunity for reflection on deeper matters. Aquariums are pure fantasy. For me, the fantastical delight is coupled with disgust that mankind uses finite resources to isolate and capture nature for its own amusement. How do we come to engage in exploitation so easily? In the far future, will aquariums no longer be prioritized as a necessary reason to burn coal or will they be highly treasured as one of the last places many species of aquatic life can persist? These contradictions made this series interesting for me. I find that shooting through the glass and having the image obscured by this manmade material is part of the beauty and the necessary tension in these images. PS. My seven year old marine biology loving daughter came up with the title "Deeper Down" for this project...
  • Place Paintings

    These paintings made from 1994 - 2013 are me working through ideas on time, place, transformation, memory, nostalgia and earthly bodies. I've never liked my paintings. I always have a hard time looking at them once they are finished. I never can commit to ideas in paint. The paintings are always a stepping stone.
  • Paintings With People

    These paintings made from 1994 - 2013 are me working through ideas on time, place, transformation, mysticism, earthly bodies, and celestial bodies. I've never liked my paintings. I always have a hard time looking at them once they are finished. I never can commit to ideas in paint. The paintings are always a stepping stone.
  • The Circular Reflection

    I love and adore the wild landscapes of planet Earth. It seems the more I experience the Earth and observe its systems and intricacies the more I am led to remember that this ball of mud with all its complex systems is spinning through space. Then, I find myself in an exquisite moment where I am aware of my life in comparison to the vast galaxy and beyond. You know that moment when you feel like an ant compared to it all. I love that moment. The funny thing is that this whole experience of the wild landscape leading me to the stars always leads me back to the landscape—it’s a completely circular reflection, every time. Where am I in that circle? Sure I observe, but I’m also woven into all of it. I live my life to fully experience that. I live to get out of my mind and interact with breathing, pulsing life as much as I can, while I can. Even 100 years feels too short in the gaze of a great love.
  • Devil’s Fruit

    These photographs by Ari Denison © 2013 Choreographer Julia Adams chose my photographic work with the fungi of the mid - south region // Natural History Project to incorporate into her set design. I created work that was projected onto the stage background and onto umbrella props that acted as mushroom themselves. The dancers interacted with the projections...making them more than just the set, but also part of the dance itself—its story. In one image the projections are visible on the skin of the dancers as they become part of this Kingdom of fungi themselves. The fungi Kingdom is important to the Mississippi River Basin (as it is everywhere) because all living plant life is intertwined with a mycelium network that keeps it fed, watered, and growing. It's an information network for plants. The fungi are a part of the death/birth cycle—eating the fallen and making soil for new to grow. Learn more in Paul Stamen's book Mycelium Running or watch this Ted Talk he gives. News about the River Project:

    River as muse, part 2: heralded River Project returns

    World-premiere of River Project 2 opens October 19th

    Ballet Memphis takes brilliance to the river, By Jon W. Sparks