Uncertainty surrounds us all as we shelter in place.  Where do our thoughts go when fear is now part of our world?  What happens when we shut our doors and silence consumes us as we long for the sound of another voice?  Sometimes in the midst of global chaos, simple truths reveal themselves through the insightful analogies that follow.

“I felt with every pore of my body a mighty strength that was not me but something else, a light that inundated my being and life.”  Brenda Spielmann

I remember distinctly the day when I closed my front door and isolated myself from others.  My husband could not fathom my self imposed distancing as I voiced my opinion, “It is really going to get bad!”

“It feels like we are worlds apart, as if a giant wall is in between us. But really, if we look in our hearts, we just have to peek around the edge and our loved ones are right there. Can we touch them, feel them, hold them, hug them? No, but to the heart, no distance is too far.”  Ashley Gurley

The light in the storm showed up one day and that light had a name. -Jennifer Thoreson.

She wanted to start a virtual group, Photographers Under Quarantine, in the hopes of “creating something beautiful amongst all the ugliness in the world” all within the confines of our quarantined space. Led by our empyreal mentor, we have grown to over 500 strong from all over the world.

“Free your mind and your heart, treasure what you have lived, but let them flow for a better today.”  Rocio Villanueva

Each week we were assigned a ten minute challenge that most of the time made us giggle and in some cases, scratch our heads.  Use a cookie sheet or wax paper or a box or white paper or a corner in one of our rooms, and create a masterpiece?!  It was the start of “sparking conversations and igniting joy.”

“Absurdity is becoming okay.  We’re creating our own spotlight.”  Evangelina Gala

My favorite challenges occurred when Jennifer would give us a new topic to explore for one week.  This assignment freed us to dig deeper into the crevices of our souls allowing us to share our feelings and in many cases create a piece of art we never could’ve imagined.  Jennifer dared us to crawl inside of ourselves with such topics as translate the concept of memory, faith under quarantine, explore your own brand of essential/nonessential, ask the question what is your own relationship with technology, and re-entry – “what does it feel like to you?”  I found beauty in the words that each artist shared to describe their interpretation of each topic.

“I feel that I have shed many skins in this life, I have grown new tissue, developed new limbs and this current iteration is becoming well woven with technological delights. It holds me up, encircles me, and I am blissfully caught in its web.”  Leslie Castro

As spring became summer, I became more enthralled with the amazing emotional quality that each photographer brought to their imagery as the world around us crept under our skins shedding blood and tears.  We found comfort in those that shared our humanity, provided a shelter in which to heal.

“In the midst of physical distancing I spend a lot of time thinking about how human ignorance and cruelty is salt on the wound of those who are most vulnerable. I have to believe that it is for a greater purpose because otherwise what will be left for my children? I have to have faith in the bigger picture because my children need to have faith in me.”  Carrie Tafoya-Hessin

One of the truly gratifying moments each week of our explosion of creative adventures was when Jennifer Thoreson critiqued our work.  I think we all longed to embrace her delightfully, impassioned words as she encouraged us to listen to that inner voice and share the truths of our hearts.

“There’s a wonderful graphic design with all of those delicate vertical lines. They also read as sweat on a body to me, tears on a cheek, even faded blood on a wall…they have a human element to them. Wonderful tones in the black and white, and the textures are so rich. I see the metaphor for life vs death, darkness, fragility, transition, and timid change.”  Jennifer Thoreson

At summers end, I came to realize we all came from a different place in our journey as we tried to drown out the noise of the outside world. Within our confined space but not far from our computers and cameras, our art community found strength for a new day. We were allowed to succumb to our feeling of self as we surrender to our inner vision and the simple truths placed upon a sheet of white paper wondering what tomorrow brings.

“There is no return to normal. The only thing important in this life is love.”  Martha Murray

Gratitude flows for the time spent with Photographers Under Quarantine under the umbrella of Jennifer Thoreson’s guidance.  I will miss jumping out of bed every morning to see the posted visionary delights, the growth that comes from uncertainty and introspection, and enjoying the blurred lines between what is real and not real with kindred spirits.  Our catalogue of imagery is a window to that moment when we allowed a light to enter our darkness and share our simple truths through the lens of our cameras.