Work by artist
Ruth Lauer Manenti
Ideas of impermanence have always compelled me as my parents were refugees from Europe, each having lost, in essence, everything. My mother grew up in Berlin in a wealthy family of artists and intellectuals, and in 1939 was put on a train by herself, going to Holland, with two potatoes in her coat pocket. My father grew up in Vienna and because of an almost random favor owed to his father, a bank clerk, his family was provided with an affidavit in 1939 which allowed for the family to come to America. Coming to America with nothing, after having had so much, my parents understood how transient and uncertain everything is. My father was always frugal and wore shirts with holes in them. With a spirit of acceptance, pointing to the hole he would say, “This is life.” Perhaps because of this, I have collected and salvaged remnants; broken and torn pieces that had once belonged to something more. Thus, in my photographs I aspire to reference the pain of loss while offering a visual poetry that allows for reflection and speaks of the release one feels when accepting the fleeting nature of life. Within that acceptance is the potential to sense what is not material yet hidden, subtle and always remains. I’m interested in how such complex and personal ideas can be conveyed in simple ways in my pictures. People often appreciate the process of change and transformation in nature, watching the tide roll in and out, the waves manifest and dissolve, because we see ourselves in that process. This ephemerality is experienced by all in both sad and beautiful ways within the duration of our lives. As a metaphor for this my photographs often are of something damaged yet poignant: the cup breaks but from that comes a shard. The glass shatters and after gathering the pieces I see this newfound beauty held in my hand. A rock was once part of a larger rock. The rock breaks but the spirit endures within its fragments. As individuals, we humans are also remnants, particles of a universal spiritual dimension. The light used in my pictures is the natural light coming and going, playing hide and seek through the window as a direct link to the sun itself and its symbolism of the Spirit as that which is essentially ever-lasting. My work expresses the pain of having to gather the fractured pieces of our lives, and the poetry and beauty one comes across through that never-ending process. Like a dandelion that has gone to seed, one wanderer’s exhale or one light wind and it disappears, blown away forever.
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