September 10, 2022
Photography and words by Karen Ghostlaw Pomarico
Karen Ghostlaw Pomarico is a visual storyteller that engages photography and her camera to depict the pages in her book of life. She is a multifaceted and multidisciplinary artist that uses her camera as a catalyst to describe the world around her in unique ways. She thinks about her photograph as an idea through the viewfinder, and an image in the editorial process. Karen is an Editor here at The Pictorial List and enjoys working with other photographers, helping them tell their stories, and finding inspiration in other photographer’s work and their processes. An awarded and published international photographer, Karen engages many environments globally to tell her stories. Her work has been exhibited internationally, and she loves collaborating on new projects and expanding her knowledge and understanding of the world around her and her place in it.
Karen began an exploration in self portraiture and reflectivity over 14 years ago. This began as an exploration to find herself, and an investigation into who she was. Karen had committed her creative energies over the years to homeschooling her four children through high school, and began to address herself as an individual as the children became more independent in their studies. Karen shares with us some of her most recent self portraiture work coming out of the pandemic. She has found self portraiture to be a safe and familiar place during the isolating times of the pandemic. Karen shares a selection of images that will be included in one of her two large photographic mixed media installations, exhibiting in Paris in November.
The global pandemic has brought humanity on an unexpected journey. Isolation and self contemplation became unavoidable. We have searched our souls and lived with our thoughts, and discovered new realities in the midst of the abstraction and surreal environment of the pandemic. I saw a future understanding of our individualities and strengths in our independence, moving from the unconscious to the conscious. This body of work takes the viewer on a visual excavation, like unearthed sarcophagi, their wiser and enlightened souls emerging. I ask the viewer to understand their weaknesses and commit to making them their strengths, weaving together the layers of the past and present, to create a new future.
What began as a study in self portraiture, led to a fascination in reflectivity. I have examined a multitude of reflective surfaces to fully understand the refractive properties of light and how I could define these properties through my lens. I discovered many unique attributes that are magically expressed in these elusive spaces. The attributing colors of the photographs play a key role in how the reflective space is translated. Color provokes an emotional response, making personal connections to the images. Over the years I have developed a visual language to describe the reflective world I live in, translating what I see in my mind's eye, with the tool of my camera. The interpretations lead to a more thorough understanding, creating constant inspiration for new ways to express exactly what I see.
Reflectivity has become my playground for insightful investigations, challenging my critical and creative thinking skills to rendure photographically the abstractions I see and help you perceive. Reflections have a depth of field, a real three dimensional space, and this is where I connect to my world. Like stepping through the looking glass, I step into the universe of reflection, my ‘Wonderland’.
My stories often exist in the shadows, the darkness becoming the canvas for color and light. I see a ‘Wonderland’ of abstractions that can be defined in a multitude of ways. The definition of these abstractions is where the magic happens for me, evoking such questions as, what do I uncover, bring to light? What is the visual story that these details tell?
Reflectivity inspires my creative and critical thinking, expanding my capabilities for creating complex images. I want my photography to inspire the viewer to look carefully, stimulating them to question what they see, asking them to make their own conclusions. The strongest connections we make in life are through having an authentic experience. I invite one to step through my looking glass with me, and experience ‘Wonderland’ for themselves. I encourage them to peel away the layers and uncover the magic that happens when they see new things they never would have imagined.
I have become even more aware recently with reflectivity in standing water in urban environments. With global warming and the change in weather patterns, my exploration of the urban reflective landscape explores the industrial world and its changes due to the effects caused by man, while depicting these man made environments being reconstructed throughout the layers of reflection found in these waters.
The surface of water reflects the environment around us. While currents of running waters rush through the estuaries of suburbia and the remote countryside, pedestrians move through the canyons of the urban landscapes. The ebb and flow create the abstractions and aberrations in the reflective surfaces. Whether it is a splash from a footstep in a puddle of the city, or fish swimming upstream in the wilderness, the layers of complexity are overlapped and transformed. Our world is round, front to back, top to bottom, side to side, we revolve and as we do we evolve. What an important time for us to reconnect with nature and to reflect on the natural elements in our world and the fragilities and intricacies we have to balance. It is a new age for discovery, when we turn the world upside down or inside out to see everything we have missed. The threads of the present are intertwined with the past, the woven tapestry changing as we change. Through my investigations I illuminate these changes to engage us to think and ultimately act in new ways.
My latest work “Metropolis” examines details of the urban landscape in the abstracted chaotic layers of reflective surfaces found throughout a cityscape. They explore the friction, tension and energy of the city in the expanded dimension of space in time, the 4th dimension of reflectivity becomes the new reality. I don't change what you see, I change the way you perceive it, rediscovering a new world through investigating the old. Cities have an even greater variety of surfaces that create visual abstractions. Textures and colors unique to the urban environment, with the inherent movement that rapidly changes what can be witnessed in the reflected image. Like a symphony orchestra with many contributing factors, there is a tempo, a beat, with the shutter releasing at the height of the notes.
Since the Pandemic the reflected urban landscape has changed. The vacant spaces now add a volume and depth of field creating dynamic juxtapositions and scale relationships. There can be a large sense of emptiness and solitude, or it can feel like rush hour and pure chaos. Light plays a key role in what you will see, as well as in what you don’t. There are many tricks that city reflections can play on you, sleight of eye you might say.
I see challenges and change as inspiration, not as obstacles. I am always ready to engage in art and photography, and love to share and connect through my work, and through making meaningful lasting relationships along the way. I have found recent inspiration in collaborating on projects and contributing to something larger than myself. It is because of my in depth self exploration and experimental investigation in reflective photography, I have expanded the world I exist in to include and accept the influences of others, helping to develop new ideologies through a collective experience. I truly believe that creating new connections working in unity in collaboration is needed after the isolating times of the pandemic. It is more important now than ever before for us to create new important work as a society. Let’s open the doors of solitude, reconnect to humanity, and create a new renaissance coming out of the dark ages of the pandemic, stepping forward into the future together in a positive way.
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