Marcelina Martin Photography
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As an artist I focus on reflecting those moments when the mystery of life opens and on portraying our relationships within its vastness. I explore the inner visions and myths of people's lives in a process I named Photomythology. America is primarily a visually oriented culture. The way we perceive reality is influenced by a complex range of imagery. Heroes and myths are intricately woven into our psyches. Our ideas of individual identity, social place, and interrelatedness coalesce from this matrix of images. Some of the most adverse effects of this visual information are submerged in the unconscious, leaving us adrift, unaware that we are in its undertow. As women in a sexist culture we are especially vulnerable to manipulation through imagery. Over thousands of years, our own authentic experiences of womanhood have been erased from the public domain and replaced by fabrications designed for exploitation.

Even if we consciously reject negative images, their power can influence us subconsciously unless we change them at a deep level. If not brought to light and examined, our images evolve into private and eventually public myths and standards. Images we hold are the foundation for the content and action of our lives. Through inquiry into our inner imagery, we can expose outdated myths, produce life-affirming images, and cultivate a dynamic vision of wholeness. In consciously creating our imagery and mythologies, we affect our political, economic, spiritual, and social attitudes which inspire change in the outer world as well as our inner worlds.

During my studies of mythology, Neolithic cultures and Senoi Dreamwork in the early 1980's, I developed a method of photographing people's inner portraits. I call this work Photomythology. Photomythology is specifically about expressing one's wholeness and creativity. We can externalize our sense of our beauty and connectedness to all things. Our most cherished ideals can be developed into imagery that reflects very personal realities. Art reminds us of our strength, hope, and power.

The image above entitled "Dreamtime" came from a dream I had. In the dream I looked into a mirror and saw that there were shells embedded in my face. I said, "see what you are becoming" and looked down at my hands and saw that there were shells embedded in my hands and arms as well.  The dream was initially disturbing to me. After meditating upon it, I realized that what was happening was that I was emerging from my "shell". This was very positive, very encouraging. I was living in San Francisco at the time and there was a women's spa that I went to. A few days later, while in the hot tub, I met a young woman who was stunning. I told her about my dream and about my work. Much to my surprise and excitement, when I asked her if she would be willing to "enact" the dream for me, she said yes without hesitation. We went to Stinson Beach, collected shells and then went to a friend's hot tub in Muir Woods. After pasting shells on, I photographed her in water and arrived happily at this image. Water represented change for me and it's motion and mysteriousness gave life to the emotion that  I was trying to capture. This image always reminds me of a time of synchronicity, of creativity and renewal. To touch the mystery, one must be willing to take risks.

Another use of Photomythology can be a reworking of past pain and feeling incomplete to achieve an integrated, wholesome experience of one's beauty and future. We look fearlessly into our experiences, lay hold to that which needs healing, and bring this into coherent myths that lead to images through photography and eventually to images of wholeness. This process focuses on using the darkness to reveal the light. We can use images to resonate with our lives as journey and as an adventure. We can create images to remind us to allow nothing to stand between us and the life we imagine. I am including several photomythology sessions here. The first was shot in Berkeley, California with Marsha Toyohara.

 

The following statement was made by Marsha Toyahara from Berkeley, California about her experience of  a "Photomythology" session. We explored a memory of her marriage that still seemed unfinished for her and decided how to externalize that as photographic images. The image that she is speaking of is "Bride".

 


 

"Bride"
Marcelina Martin 1983

The dress: trying to find my essence, my essential culture in a very traditional realm - not grounded in the knowing that all my essence, me, is right here in my heart center, deep. It was the marriage, in some way of my attempting to join the two cultures in order to create, to be, to find me.

I unsuccessfully tried to become this synthesized, fabricated wife, whom I thought would bring me home, what I thought would be the best of both worlds, the best of me. The dress thus symbolized to me the joining of two worlds traditional Japan and modern America. Because the marriage of these two worlds was unsuccessful through that physical union, I divorced and continued on my search.
 

Six years and much growth later, I am in graduate school, exploring a mythic image through a course assignment. The path of these ensuing years has brought much pain, joy, discovery, loss. One of my mythic images is "Spiritual Midwife - Rebirthing Creativity on Woman." It seemed appropriate that I engage my wedding dress once again in this new relationship between two worlds - the mythic realm and the material world.
 

At the time of the photo session, I had a felt sense of the essence of Spiritual Midwife. She is there, traveling through mythic time and space to aide in women's emergence of her creativity. I am reminded of the South American's shaman's knowledge that only by going to the mythic world can true healing occur. It was this journey to mythic time and space, facilitated by Marcelina, that the essence of the spirit of my creativity was able to be birthed. The marriage of heaven and earth to bring forth the spirit.
 

What was interesting about the process of my photo session with Marcelina was how we were supporting each other in creativity; truly the path of the feminine. Marcelina's vision in the emergence of the physical image of my mythic woman was instrumental in a deeper discovery of the midwife. Her technical expertise as well as her artistic and spiritual sensibilities balanced her ability to recreate what for me was still in meditative form. The process of doing the session was as important as seeing the finished photo, and it was because of the entire process that I feel able to explore deeper my mythic midwife. The unseen is here all around us, and fortunately due to Marcelina's vision and clarity, I could bring forth and materialize that which makes me whole again.

Marcia Toyohara

Berkeley, California


she.jpg (17320 bytes)
"She-Stallion of the Wild Woods"
Marcelina Martin 1993

 

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