by Sara Farizan
NEW BEDFORD, MA-Mother Nature is all around us, but very few of us take the time to appreciate her. When we aren’t busy with work or family, we busy ourselves with computer screens, television screens, cell phone screens and any thing that can screen our sight of the great outdoors.
Who better then to embrace and notice all of Mother Nature’s nuances than an artist who happens to also be a mother?
Amanda Swain Bingham goes back to her roots in documentary photography in her new show at the Colo Colo gallery this month. Swain Bingham studied under Bill Burke, a renowned photographer who told her to photograph what she knew. This lead to Swain Bingham’s well received ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ series, chronicling her parents’ divorce in 1996.
Since then she has had a long career showing her work at the Howard Yezerski Gallery, the Boston Museum School’s Grossman Gallery; Gallery Equus; The Boston Public Library; and the Concord Art Association to name just a few. Many of her pieces are a part of private collections in Chicago, California and the United Kingdom.
Her new solo show “Unscripted Happenings” comes from her observations of her surroundings near her Rhode Island home, where she raises two young sons, Oliver,10 and Jasper,8. It was in her frequent morning runs and exploring the outdoors with her sons that she became inspired to record the wonderment that many of us often neglect.
“Mothers endure a misunderstood swirl of isolation. A deep knowing that being wrapped in the needs of others, is preparing me to do my best work. I make these pictures to remember and to remind: we are part of a web,” Swain Bingham writes in her artist’s statement.
Swain Bingham’s photographs in this series are very much like clouds in the sky. At first, you are left with just a beautiful cloud, but the longer you look at the cloud you see it take on different forms and become a living entity and part of a much larger landscape. A photograph of a giant rock form in the water, for example, looks very much like a whale, stranded in a sea too small to provide for it. An image of a seagull’s carcass buried in the sand evokes the idea of a fallen angel, shrunken, tired and long forgotten by other heavenly creatures.
She makes ordinary, regular things other-worldly and that is in part because she sees them that way to begin with.
Swain Bingham owes a great deal of her inspiration to her children, who seem to find the magic in everything adults fail to see the older they get. Thankfully, magic is alive and well within Swain Bingham and her work. She writes, “I try to document the relation of myth to landscape. A tale of geography. Not only of place, but of outposts of magic and divine.”
“Unscripted Happenings” opens April, 7th with an opening reception from 5-8pm at the Colo Colo gallery and will be on display until April 26th.