I desire to make portraits of women so badly because women are our first relationship. We all come through women, they are our windows into this world. It's the first nourishment, the first love, the first disappointment, loss, emptiness we feel. The first satisfaction, joy, intimacy, responsiveness, are all from this first relationship with the woman who bore our bodies to the world. Both sides of that relationship are so intensely fraught with needs, desires, ambitions, hopes and fears. I believe that there is a way to begin to see ourselves with more compassion that can also spread light onto our own mothers and even our children. And the most powerful way I can see it is through photography, specifically portraiture. A true, vulnerable and honest portrait of a woman tells you about her. How she feels in the sun and her capacity for loving another. How she stands on her own and claims her right to stand by the complexities and power she embodies. How she has a sovereignty that has nothing to do with how she interacts with others but only to how she exists as herself. How she is valued by those who love her beyond her physical capabilities or appearances. How she is a treasure with a trove of gifts inside her.
Women. What a wonder. What a surprise to turn and see that each woman is not just the reflection of what you hoped she might do for you but is actually a whole shining representation of just herself. Beautiful unto herself and truly so much better. Imagine what your relationships with women could be if you could only see them apart from expectation. Who are they, what are their gifts, what vision and understanding are they bringing to the world? I believe there is an important separation between what is the best for our selves and what is the best that we can give to another. When reflected onto our mothers perhaps this understanding looks like seeing the ways in which they are not perfectly formed for you as an opportunity to see how they are truly formed. What wondrous and satisfying thing do they bring regardless of how they may have let you down. Can you see them apart from your own wounding? And reflected back on you...can you see what you bring apart from the ways that you do not fit the mold? Can you see and rest in your strengths using those to feed your relationships while letting the rest go.
The ways women may be imperfect are not failings, they are just indicator lights that can point us towards ourselves. These may not be areas in which we fail even, but areas in which we feel used or sad. A place where we feel dull or stifled. Pointed another way we are one step closer to being where we may really shine our light. And then we must shine it while being humble about the things we are not doing, cannot do or choose not to do. Resting in our gifts we can acknowledge the ways in which we do not shine more humbly, and gratefully see others in their gifts and their weakness. I find myself able to parent (and be a child) better when I acknowledge that these people (parents and children) are neither supposed to fit me or me to them but are potential complimentary fellows. They do not belong to me nor I to them in the sense that we must satisfy each other.
A portrait is the first place that I began to see my mother (and my father as well) as a human apart from me. As someone who did not exist solely to meet my needs but as an entirely separate human. Someone with a separate path and gifts that, while I may benefit from them, were not designed for my benefit. And it was also the first place I saw myself apart from my performance as their daughter. Why am I here, what am I formed of, what do I bring to this world are the core questions and they were buried so long under what am I expected to do, be and have. Oh women, when we stop trying to be everything to everyone we can truly be ourselves. And that can be hard to accept but it is the most beautiful use of our time. I make portraits to speak women to themselves, and those who love her. To expose with compassion who we are and to sow the seeds of just how beautiful we truly are. Portraiture is a part of my journey towards my own light and how I may bring my gifts to the world. I intend every portrait to be a gift to the woman in it and to everyone who sees it.
with love, Yola