Being Set Free

The unique project Being Set Free is one in which artists evolve their photographic artworks to achieve self-healing and personal discovery.

Using intuitive or conceptual processes of creation, artists evolve their respective images around each of their own physical/emotional healing goals or subjects – setting oneself free from limitations, grief, disease, loneliness, encumbrances, disappointment, all common experiences of the human condition.   The images may also inspire growth, liberation and a sense of unboundedness.  Being Set Free images can also come out of love, adventure or many other positive events in one’s life.

The exhibition along with the stories will be exhibited at A Smith Gallery from February 23 to April 15, 2018. Jurors were Karen Divine, Melanie Walker, Amanda Smith, Diana Perkins and Kevin Tully.

Pat Brown / So Proud She Was to Die

Hey, Baby, you don’t need a reason – it’s art. It’s creating something out of nothing, like the universe coming into existence from a singularity. You can make your own big bang, and it keeps expanding, going, going, lighting up a spark here and there. Hey, Baby, it’s metaphysics! Paper, paint, film, ferricyanide, pixels, ink, baling wire, wax, collodion, fixer. Oh and don’t forget light. Light, Baby, that’s what it’s all about. You don’t need a reason! Except to create a universe.

Cecily Caceu / Moon Drop Tales and Tea Bag Wisdom

The feeling of ancestors brewing beneath your skin, itching, itching, itching, to tell their story. Wanting to warn you about their past sadness. A sadness that permeates into your organs. Something they passed on to you without your consent. You are stronger for this inheritance. You did not ask for it, but you know, deep down inside, that this wisdom is what gives you your perseverance. There is much to learn from their moon drop tales and tea bag wisdom.

Monika Colichio / Agony

Those memories of you are crawling under my skin, pulling them out one by one with each question mark. In my head thousand thoughts, waking up before the sun. To feel less is my dream. Body is drying out, hydrated only by tears. Thinner than ever fingers, don’t want to feel anything else, no more. Close eyes. Open my eyes. Still the same. I will not! I will never again!! Get out! Get out!

Jana Curcio / Summer

Sing to me a new song Of love that is in the stars Sing to me of hope Poured from heaven above Sing to me a new song Of passion in my heart Sing to me of joy Wrapped in my lovers arms Sing to me a new song A place where I belong Sing to me, My Love All that was me is gone.

Eduardo Fujii / Rise of the Machines

The image represents my fear of a future where AI machines rebel against and enslave the human race. For those of us, sci-fi aficionados, mixing robots and artificial intelligence is a scary combination. We watched Battlestar Galactica. We know what happens when machines evolve. In Battlestar Galactica intelligent robots called Cylons almost destroyed mankind in a 1,000-year war. Raymond Kurzweil, author of “The Age of Intelligent Machines”, predicts that we are just a few years away from artificial intelligence (AI) outsmarting the human brain. AI has already become a household term thanks to Google, Apple, Amazon, and other tech giants. Royal astronomer Sir Martin Rees believes machines will replace humanity within a few centuries. A recent technology conference in Hong Kong showcased two lifelike robots named Han and Sophia. Physicist Stephen Hawking issued a warning about the need to control technology to prevent it from destroying the human race. The threat is real!

Eduardo Fujii / The First Vision

This image takes me back in time. A little boy, innocent and naive, still untouched by fear or guilt. Everything new, everything a source of wonder. I can’t remember the first time I saw my parents or was it, grandma? What a wonderful experience that might have been. My first bicycle, first dog, first rain. Who knew water could flow from the sky? The sun, the moon, the stars… I still have such a profound admiration for celestial bodies and the mysteries of the universe. The first feeling of loss came early though. It rendered me motionless, like a helpless bystander watching my most terrifying moments play out in front of me. The most inspiring first, however, was listening to my uncle play the piano. I had no idea classical music could be so touching. It touched so deep that inspired me to become a pianist, a photographer, and an artist.

Eduardo Fujii / Uncertain Destiny

Emotional healing from encrusted grief sounds like a liberating proposition. But, what if the pain has become so familiar that it makes me feel like home? I have very few memories of my mother, who I lost when I was 13. As many years have passed after that, the devastating feeling of loss has abated but I still carry it with me. The dress in the image symbolizes the dichotomy between pain and remembrance. It clings to the branch like I do to the pain in an attempt to maintain a connection to the person I loved the most and to a time in my life when I was really happy. I added an imaginary wind to provide a means to set the dress free. Do I really want to be set free?

Aubrey Guthrie / Hospice Fade Out

Thoughts and emotions flowed thru my body as I waited in Hospice for the freeing of her soul.

Abbey Hepner / To What You Cannot Hold

There are many things we do in an attempt to heal ourselves. We try to connect to nature and to each other. And often this connection fails to heal us… but there is beauty in the attempt. Someone who died young and healthy gave my friend lungs that both extended his life and killed him. One day in December I returned to the salt flats in Utah, where Jake and I are from, and created this photo with my husband. That day it was 11 degrees out. It was so painfully cold and we were so miserable and there was something about the way that we hid that pain… the question of helping and hurting, dependence and independence, intimacy and solitude that could exist because of our relationship to each other.

Sean MH Johnson / Mystery Landscapes 3

Being Set Free is Being Embraced by Beauty…

The boundless skies and seas surround us
Creating a cocoon, cradling us through life.
We imagine ourselves above and
Separate from nature.

We seem small, insignificant compared to
The majesty of a mountain or
The vastness of the oceans.
We are part of a great mystery.

Without the embrace of things bigger,
Our journey becomes meaningless.
Let go. In still moments reflecting on nature’s untamed spirit,
Allow yourself to sink into beauty’s power and comfort.

Take the wildness of sky and sea—
Let them fill your soul, lifting you to be more.
Jump into the void of these mystery landscapes.
Know that you are more than body, mind and soul.
You are part sky, part land, part sea.

Dorothy Kloss / Longing for Someone to Get It / Juror’s Selection

“Longing for Someone to Get It” is my struggle within raising its ugly head when my inability to communicate prevents me from leading a normal, productive life. So many times have I given up and given in that it has become the ‘norm’. This image is one I am very fond of because when people look at it they understand or have something they can relate to about it, and I don’t have to say anything. I feel as though I am free of my frustrations when I work with these puppets, even if only for a moment. I think that everyone has these moments, and everyone has that special someone or something with which they can safely silently say, ‘you get it!’ ‘Giving in’ is one approach to being set free.

Dorothy Kloss / Monsters Don’t Sleep Under Your Bed, They Scream Inside Of Your Hear / Juror’s Selection

Having come from a life of almost total solitude and independence is undoubtedly a rare thing, and I can appreciate how it may not be valued. Not realizing the extent of the changes that I would face upon giving up my independence, or the changes that were expected of me, the only thing I could do is hold my emotions in. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. However, when I discovered a vehicle for converting my emotions into something less destructive, it was as if a door had opened. When I finally reached my breaking point, these puppets gave me a way to express how I was feeling, even if I was unable to deal with the reality of what was causing me to feel so helpless. “Monsters Don’t Sleep Under Your Bed, They Scream Inside Of Your Head” is my way of coping with the feelings I am faced with.

Dorothy Kloss / Outside and Out of Touch / Juror’s Selection

“Outside and Out of Touch” is an expression of my inner struggle dealing with fitting in. I’ve been a loner for as long as I can remember and have never really come to terms with who I am, or better yet, who I am not. There always seem to be walls preventing me from connecting with others. Making art tears down those walls and allows me to feel free to express myself without having to defend myself. I love working with string puppets. They are a vessel for so many of my emotions and mostly, they express universal emotions.

Steve Knight / A Dream of My Grandmother 

It’s 1959. My grandmother is kneading the bread dough on the metal countertop, the aroma of yeast sweet through the kitchen. A bowl of rice pudding is cooling to the side as she adds ice to the crock of fresh lemonade made just for the two of us to share. My grandfather is drinking his afternoon coffee, pouring it from the enameled cup into the saucer to cool, then tipping the saucer and sipping the still hot coffee from the edge. This morning’s milk has been separated and churned by my grandmother’s wonderful new appliance, an electric churn. I slice a thick piece of yesterday’s bread and slather it with the smooth, fresh butter using the wooden spatula still in the butter bowl. I hear a voice, my grandson saying “Pops, Pops, wake up, play with me”. Now it’s time to shape his memories.

Steve Knight / Alice and George

The old Sitka spruce has spent half its life encroaching on their space. But it was here a century before they arrived. Alice and George seem to resist, hopelessly pushing back with unseen force of will, of spirit, leaning into the mighty tree with all they have. But they too will topple, subsumed by its mass as all else around it has been, becoming a part of its whole. Time is irrelevant, resistance futile as the Sitka’s conquering march cannot be denied. It is patiently relentless. It is all powerful. It will win.

Art Kock / Ascension

The dust symbolizes the cosmic dust that is the origin of man. Both secular science and the Scriptures state that man was formed from dust. The big bang theory, more or less, holds that planet earth and all its life forms developed from stardust, while the biblical account states that man was formed by God from the dust of the earth, which he also created (and woman from the rib of Adam). And in yet another similarity, both worldviews state that man returns to dust. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. The scene communicates that leaving earth in bodily form and going to a former place of glory, having won victory over death, being set free from the physical body.

Tracy Love / Child Within

I have a childhood friend who is a constant nag. I tried to ditch her and was almost successful but just a few years ago, she found me. She reminded me of all the good times we had and the adventures we took together when we were young. I am surrounded by responsibility and commitments but her only desire is to play. So, I spend a little time with her and when we depart she always says the same thing, “When are we going to get together again?”.

Tracy Love / Out of the Shell

Society likes to put us into neat, little boxes. Every document we complete and sign places us into easily sortable compartments. Why do we allow this to happen? We were born wildly creative. We colored outside the lines. We danced when there was no music. We sang our own songs. The compartmentalization process is purposely slow. You awake one day to realize that you are in a shell not of your own making. Climbing out of the shell requires determination and effort. You scream out loud, “I am bigger than this” but most are not listening. So we leave bread crumbs, a beautiful picture and then another and then another. Someone looks into the shell and realizes we are gone. Our creative crumbs leave evidence of our escape and a path for others to follow.

Lynda Martin / Signals

This image is about seeking guidance to move past self-limiting beliefs. Freedom is possible when intuition and nature provide inspiration. We can find our path when we remember to pay attention to the signs along the way. The signals (kites) are communications with the Divine—the prayers and often mysterious answers that guide me through life.

Bobbi McMurry/ Storm / Please Return / Nights Are Bright


An Unexpected Journey

A violent storm burst from my eyes,
my world was now in tatters.
To lose a love like yours and mine,
nothing else can matter.

I dream and bring you back to life,
wish I’d never wake.
Morning comes and I’m still here,
alone with my heartache

I strive to gain perspective,
to put things in their place.
Days are dark, and nights are bright,
within this empty space.

I feel your presence everywhere,
Yet miss you all day long.
I hear your voice inside my head,
a sweet and gentle song.

Warmth came through my window,
caressing me as you.
I’m reminded of my blessings,
to have loved someone so true.

The sun reflected off his wing,
I watched him freely soar.
Life goes on without you,
but you’re with me ever more.

Lucinda Nicholas / naked now look at my body

I used the words ‘hell…wanting to be somewhere different…dying before you die’ to describe how it feels to look in the mirror and be disheartened by what you see. That feeling that you are so ugly, so not how you want to be, that you cannot imagine how anyone could look at you with love. My image is exploring the freedom that comes when you accept your body and its limitations. There is the negative and the positive and they combine to form something that goes beyond the physical, something that you feel in your spirit despite your feelings about your body. I struggle with body image issues, and it’s only recently I have set myself free from that feeling of loathing when I look in the mirror and instead started cultivating a more healthy look at a person’s inner beauty.

Vicki Reed / Letting Go

Orphaned at Sixty-five

No More
seeing her laugh at the dancing girl in the tree outside her window
pleas to take her home though she did not know where home was
late night calls to soothe her and distract her from anxiety attacks
thanking her for teaching me how to be a good mother
walking halls with her in a manic search for a lost child
hearing him whistle to his favorite songs
seeing him tuck her in to keep her warm
making the staff laugh with his teasing
feeding him his favorite chocolate pie
doing their nails, massaging their feet
singing along to music of the forties
taking them for rides for ice cream
loving embraces as they sleep
sharing memories and laughs
hearing, “JERE!”  “Yes, Dear.”
wheelchairs and walkers
strokes and blank stares
gentle hospice workers
sundowners syndrome
labored breathing
falling down

Michelle Ridlehoover / Do you see me?

Do you see me? My life to the service of others. Many hate me. My “skin”. My uniform. Cursed at, spit on, life threatened, family threatened. I see your pain. Anger. Frustration. Spit on my face…I face your hatred. A uniform not because I am a racist pig. Not because I like watching people take their last breaths. I am not ignorant of the injustices of the past. I don’t want to cover up the injustices of the present. Do you see me? A uniform because I was brutalized. Beaten. Humiliated. Made to feel worthless. I can’t wrap a bullet proof vest around that young woman. Do you see my wounded warrior? Or a racist pig? When ignorance and hate open fire,…I will die to protect you. Everyday, I rise from my peace. Put on my badge. Show myself that I make a difference. Do you see me?

Stefynie Rosenfeld / Untitled

Lost in a polluted mind, her wings fell silent. When paths to kinder shores shown breadcrumbs to their doors, she found she remembered how to fly.

Beth Sanders/ Untitled

This image is about the ties I have had to the past that were crippling me.  It’s me in my mothers dress that represents a need for me to see me for who I am not through the lens of my mother.  Why I am looking back at myself.

Deborah Sfez / Childhood Mirage 2

Is neither a Home nor a Land
It is the Womb
From where you are born
With it’s warm or cold nature,
The language
You first hear and use to express
Your very first desires and thoughts,
It’s the story you are told
About your parents and ancestor
And the God or Gods
You are urged to believe in

And trust,
Homeland is the Landscapes
That live in your mind and soul
With their unique weather and seasons
That influence your mentality
Shape your behavior
Your temper
Your moods
Your humor.

Deborah Sfez / Circus 2

He is the fool
Who tells you a legend
You want to believe in
With magic words
Carries you
To a Planet unknown

He is the great acrobat
The Dancer
Who floats in the air
In circles
And makes you understand
That the universe
Unfolds For those who realize
That roundness
Applies in two dimensions
The one you can grab
The rest unseizable.

Lynda SmithSchick / Fragility of Fog 5

Fragility of Fog Fear took up residence like a squatter, during fragile moments of contemplating obscured emotions. This project came in hindsight as I considered the diverse emotions that had accompanied my life’s events: fear, joy, loneliness, calm, anger, hope, sadness and anxiety. From repeated traumas through the years, I needed the lens of art to chronicle the range of emotion I’d experienced and managed in a transformative, liberating way. Being set free on the other side of this this examination, I understand the fragility of fog — amorphous and transient. We peek behind fog’s seemingly substantial veil, finding nothing. The misty layers mimic our emotions, enveloping and transforming earth for a time.

Jason Tannen / The Letter

The letter came in a film noir moment, slid under the model’s door, interrupting the photography session – a friend of a friend whose headshots were making their way around the City. Her home was already dark, already required lamplight for reading. In the opening of the envelope, her shadow shifted on the wall. An empty letter and petty cash – two fives – to what purpose? The spit on the sidewalk? The last word? The composition was replete with dualities the photographer knew well. Harsh highlight; deep shadow. Foreground figure; background set-piece. Also present, under the surface: Pain; relief. Grief; hope. The shooter took his shot, and the moment perched in the air, the static suspense between two eras: the before waiting for the after, the slug of life in motion and the exhale to something new. ––Narrative written in collaboration with Jacquelyn Spangler, 2017

Benita VanWinkle / Winter Sunrise

For over two years, I sent a photograph to my friend on her phone, a reminder that she was loved. She had been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, and the images became a game to find a sparkly something to make her smile. I found silly juxtapositions, achingly beautiful sunrises, frost on winter grass and windows. Sidewalk chalk messages left by unknown artists appeared in front of me, color bursting first blooms of spring danced in the wind, snails inched across my path. What a gift to have someone to share a secret little smile with every morning. Now her daughter gets the photographs.

Charlotte Watts / The Lines Of My Hand

The Lines Of My Hand
On holding bird in my hand

My hand my arm my nerves my brain
can only fix the tilt of wings,
can only draw long dead remains.
But oh they give me hope, they sear my deepest being
that I will soar as weightless as a child again.