an appreciation of an artist: dianne de mott
For a number of months I have wanted to showcase the photographic artistry of Dianne. Over the years I have watched her mature and focus her creativity from an interesting hobby into more of an intentional calling. This summer, while I was playing jazz bass and reading theology, she was honing her craft through practice, study and experimentation. My sense is that she has found a way to both express her own intuitive spirituality of discovering the sacred within the ordinary in her photographs while inviting others to see beyond the obvious, too. There is always something deeper and more beautiful going on than we first imagined.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat have written that photography nourishes our capacity for vision: it draws out our ability to see and exercises our capacity to see deeply. Quoting Henry Miller they observe that: "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes mysterious, awesome, an indescribably magnificent world unto itself." Photography brings together the sensual with the visual, the quotidian with the transcendent and helps us "transcend the boundaries between self and the otherness of the world, momentarily... merging diversity with the underlying unity of life." (http://www.spiritualityandpractice .com/arts/ photography-features/view/27926/the-spiritual-gifts-of-photography)
I asked Di for her favorite seven photographs - and she sent me eight! Always pushing the edge, yes? They are arranged chronologically with a title and suggested date beneath each image.
Cornstalk Graveyard (1970s)
Iona Rain (2005)
The Beauty of Love (2006)
Changed Priorities (2007)
Sparrow in the Sun (2015)
Unadulterated Joy (2015)
Lot's Wife (2015)
As is my want to do, I discern three things about all of these photographs:
+ First, they are all understated. The most bold - and sensual - is the street skater from Montreal taken at a street festival on Mont Royal not far from our summer home. But even this photo evokes finding the beauty in the most ordinary setting; in this case, an unexpected ballet on roller blades.In my spirituality, her works are all about "the Word becoming flesh" and the mystery of grace being revealed to those with eyes to see.
+ Second, each photograph tells a quiet story infused with love. There are no abstract lines, no pulsating colors and no ambiguity about these images. The barren beauty of a field of cornstalks (taken on her first "real" camera) draws attention to the world of her childhood. The "Beauty of Love" shows Jesse walking in Saguaro National Park with our old dog Casey. "Iona Rain" captures being saturated during our pilgrimage to that sacred place in Scotland. These are not contrived pictures designed to be "art." They are not "fashion" shots either. Instead they spring from the truth of her life - her loves, hopes and joy - much like St. Paul who wrote: "Now we see as through a glass darkly but then we shall see face to face.... these three things abide - faith, hope and love - and the greatest of them is love."
+ And third there is a growing sophistication to her technique that enhances rather than distracts from the heart of each story. Di is not big into photo-manipulation. In this her pictures are an honest reflection of a woman who lives mostly unadorned in simple beauty. To be sure, each photograph has been "rendered." That is, she spends hours looking at each picture, experimenting with different ways to present the essence of its story and subtlety tweaking parts to highlight hidden nuances. But with the exception of "Lot's Wife" - a picture crying out for the grainy addition - these photos are fundamentally natural. My mind goes to the opening verses of Scripture: "In the beginning God created... and saw that it was good."
Just as I have found a way into deeper reflection and awareness of the sacred through music, so has this happened for Di through her photography. I can't wait to see what takes place over the next ten years.